What Is Intellectual Property?

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What Is Intellectual Property?

The term intellectual property (IP for short) broadly refers to property rights vested in the intangible. The property rights associated with real property (land) and personal property (everything else) are fairly straightforward: the owner of such property has a right to possess it, to prevent others from possessing it, and to preserve its integrity, hence our laws against theft, trespass, and vandalism.
Intellectual property law, on the other hand, protects entities which have no physical form. This includes names and logos attached to products, inventions, and original works of authorship. Because nobody can physically possess these things, the laws of personal property cannot, and do not, apply. Accordingly, rather than protecting possession, intellectual property law generally protects exclusive rights to use or reproduce the intellectual property. IP laws may also, in some circumstances, protect secrecy.

The 4 Basic Forms of Intellectual Property

There are 4 broad forms of intellectual property, and they all protect different things: they are copyright, trademark, patents, and trade secrets.

Who Should Be Concerned About IP Issues? 

The short answer is “almost everybody”. However, there are a few types of people who should be particularly concerned:

Do I Need an Intellectual Property Lawyer?

If you are an artist, author, engineer, or manager (especially in industries with a great deal of employee mobility), you are likely to encounter intellectual property issues at some point.

With that in mind, it is a good idea to consult with an intellectual property attorney early in the stages of any major project. It is often the case that very minor intellectual property issues turn into large ones because they were not addressed early enough.  An experienced lawyer can advise you on what isn’t and what is intellectual property, so that you understand your legal rights with regards to a project.

Vea esta página en español: Leyes de Bienes Intelectuales o visita Abogados-Leyes.com para más información legal.

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Last Modified: 12-17-2013 12:53 PM PST

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