Intellectual property

intangible asset consisting of ownership of ideas and processes

Intellectual property (IP) refers to the ownership of an idea or design by the person who came up with it. It is a term used in property law. It gives a person certain exclusive rights to a distinct type of creative design,[1] meaning that nobody else can copy or reuse that creation without the owner's permission. It can be applied to musical, literary and artistic works, discoveries and inventions. Common types of intellectual property rights include copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights and trade secrets.

The term intellectual property dates from the 19th century.[2] Before that, patent laws were first made under the Statute of Monopolies 1623 and copyright laws were first seen in the Statute of Anne in 1710.[3] Modern usage of the term intellectual property goes back at least as far as 1867. The constitution of the North German Confederation granted legislative power over the protection of intellectual property (German: Schutz des geistigen Eigentums) to the confederation.[4]

The stated reason for most intellectual property laws is to encourage progress. To give legal ownership of an idea to an inventor is seen as an incentive for those people to make their inventions available to the public.[5] It is designed to secure the full value of a work for its creator, to make it into another type of 'real' property.


  1. Intellectual Property Licensing: Forms and Analysis, by Richard Raysman, Edward A. Pisacreta and Kenneth A. Adler. Law Journal Press, 1998-2008. ISBN 9781588520869.
  2. " property as a common descriptor of the field probably traces to the foundation of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) by the United Nations." in Mark A. Lemley, Property, Intellectual Property, and Free Riding Archived 2009-02-26 at the Wayback Machine, Texas Law Review, 2005, Vol. 83:1031, page 1033, footnote 4.
  3. Brad, Sherman; Lionel Bently (1999). The making of modern intellectual property law: the British experience, 1760-1911. Cambridge University Press. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-521-56363-5.[permanent dead link]
  4. 'Article 4 No. 6 of the Constitution of 1867 (German)' Archived 2011-05-03 at the Wayback Machine Hastings Law Journal, Vol. 52, p. 1255, 2001
  5. Lemley, Mark A. "Property, Intellectual Property, and Free Riding". Texas Law Review. 2004–2005 (83): 1031. Retrieved 3 July 2012.

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