Intellectual property (IP) relates to anything created by someone’s own personal intellect or creativity. Some examples include inventions, art, literature, poetry, writing, designs, symbols, and names used in business.
Intellectual property is protected by law. It’s a way of allowing people who have created something to be financially recompensed and own their work, plus be entitled to recognition for it.
Intellectual property is split into two separate areas: Copyright and industrial property.
This area covers work like music, films, artwork including sculptures, paintings, photographs and drawings, literary work including plays, poetry, and novels, and architectural designs. Copyright can also extend to performing artists in their work, record producers, and radio and TV broadcasters in their work.
Anyone who’s protected by copyright law can authorize or refuse the right for others to use their work, including printing it, showing it, or making recordings of it.
This includes industrial designs, trademarks, and patents for inventions.
Intellectual property was first recognized back in the 1800s. First, there was the 1883 Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. Then another treaty in 1886 at the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) delivers both of these treaties. Today, intellectual property rights are set out in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Why is Intellectual Copyright Relevant?
It provides a level of legal protection, recognition, and compensation for creators of intangible works. Not to mention, products with trademarks enhance consumer confidence in those products. But of course, it’s also a way of attempting to prevent products from being copied, counterfeited, and sold illegally.
Examples of where intellectual property rights exist and where people benefit from them include:
- Researchers & Inventors: They’re protected via the patent system so no one can steal their work. A patent gives an inventor or creator protection for their invention—usually 20 years. An example could be a vacuum cleaner design or a new drug. Once the patent runs out, other companies are free to manufacture similar items or the same products.
- Musicians, Writers & Software Creators: Intellectual property law helps to ensure that they’re recognized for their work and that they’re also recompensed for it. It’s an attempt to prevent artists from having their work stolen or used without permission.