The legal definition of intellectual property applies to creations that are usually somewhat abstract and mind dependent such as artistic and literary works, or symbols and images and even product names that are used in commerce to differentiate products and make them stand out in the business world.

Intellectual property can be subdivided into two categories. One category, called industrial property, encompasses such things as industrial designs, trademarks and even geographical indications. The other category is called copyright. Copyrights cover literary works like novels, short stories, poems and the like. It can also apply to music and film and artistic works such as sculptures, paintings and even architectural designs.

That’s not all it’s limited to, however. It can also apply to performing artists during their performances and even broadcasters whether they’re broadcasting on radio or television. Intellectual property rights protect the owners or creators of intellectual property whether it’s trademarked, copyrighted or patented. These rights were drawn up and formalized in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The need to protect intellectual property rights is of the utmost importance. Protecting intellectual property helps to promote the motivation for individuals to create and invent new ideas and products in different facets of the technology sector and in culture in general. This in turn can have a net positive effect on economic growth by creating new jobs and even whole new businesses in some cases. A fair and equitable intellectual property system ensures that the impetus for innovation is maintained.

Generally a patent is granted for protecting a person or a group’s intellectual property for a period of 20 years. After the 20 year period has passed the invention enters the public domain and anyone is able to use the patent without any approval from the patent owner. An experienced business law firm may be able to provide businesses interested in protecting their intellectual property rights with more information. Protecting intellectual property is a complex area of law.

Source: World Intellectual Property Organization, “What is Intellectual Property?,” accessed Jan. 12, 2015