What is Intellectual Property?

Any creation of the mind is considered intellectual property, from artistic and literary works to images and symbols used in ecommerce, and is protected by law by patents, trademarks, and copyright. These laws enable people to earn either financial benefit or recognition from their creation or invention. The purpose of the intellectual property system is to promote and encourage an environment in which innovation and creativity can thrive.

Types of intellectual Property

Intellectual properties fall under one of two categories:

1. Industrial Property

It includes the following:

  • Patents for Inventions – A patent is a right granted to an inventor by the government as a means to allow the owner of the patent to decide whether and how others may use their invention. In exchange, the inventor publicly discloses all the technical details of their invention.
  • Trademarks – A trademark is a recognisable design, sign, or expression that is capable of differentiating the services or goods of one company from those of other organisations. That being said, the term service marks usually describes the trademarks that are used to distinguish services.
  • Appellations of Origin/Geographical Indications – Both are interchangeable terms that refer to a sign used on products that originate in a particular geographical location (i.e. wine and spirit drinks, agricultural products, industrial products, foodstuffs, or handicrafts) and have characteristics, a reputation, or qualities that are due to that origin.  A geographical indication right allows indication holders to prevent the use of their sign by a 3rd party whose products do not meet the applicable standards.
  • Trade Secrets – These refer to devices, processes, formulas or other business information (i.e. customer lists or computer algorithms) that organisations wish to be maintained undisclosed so that they can have a business advantage over their competitors. However, this type of intellectual property does not protect you by registering your trade secret. Instead, it is necessary that the interested party takes all necessary measures to make sure critical information will remain a secret, through security practices such as nondisclosure agreements, post-employment restrictive covenants, and restricted access to confidential information.

2. Copyright

It is a legal term used to refer to a creator’s rights (authorship) over their artistic works (i.e. sculptures, paintings, drawings, and photographs), music, films, or literary works (i.e. plays, poems, or novels), along with architectural design (either two-dimensional, like lines and patterns, or three-dimensional design, such as the surface of an article). Other works covered by copyright include maps, advertisements, databases, computer programs, and technical drawings.

Intellectual Property Rights – What are They?

There is not much difference between intellectual property rights and any other property right. In a nutshell, an intellectual property right allows owners or creators of copyrighted works, trademarks, or patents to exclude others from obtaining, selling or otherwise using their intellectual property without their permission.

Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly and specifically outlines these rights. According to it, a creator can benefit from the protection of material and moral interests deriving from authorship of artistic, literary, and scientific productions.