What Is Intellectual Property?

When people think of IP, they almost always think of a form of IP which can be owned, such as a patent, trade mark, registered design or copyright. While these rights are forms of IP, the fundamental definition of “IP” is more difficult to pinpoint.

IP can be thought of as:

  • First and foremost, a creation of the mind, as a result of creativity and innovation
  • An intangible asset which can create income streams in the same way as tangible products
  • A bargaining chip and useful tool in supplier and competitor negotiations
  • A provider of competitive advantage

In some countries and circles, intellectual property is split into two categories:

  1. Industrial Property – including  inventions, industrial designs (those intended for mass production), trade marks and geographic origins of source; and
  2. Copyright – including literary and artistic works such as books and plays, films, musical works, drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and “one-off” designs such as architectural building designs.

As you can see, there is no single definition that satisfies everyone globally and if you’ve created something new, that in some way is useful to society, you may have some intellectual property.


© 2019 Wilson Gunn