What types of IP rights are there?

Intellectual property (IP) includes different types of invention, design, brand name and original creation. Just as there are laws to protect physical property against (e.g.) theft, so there are a series of laws designed to protect intellectual property.

The law provides the right to prevent unauthorised use of the invention, design, brand name or creation for the period of protection. This may be an absolute monopoly right or simply a right to prevent reproduction.

The legal rights in intellectual property can be transferred between parties, licensed to other parties and can even be mortgaged or used as security.

Rights protecting intellectual property can come into existence in one of two ways: some exist only after an application has been made and/or registration has been obtained, whilst other rights come into existence automatically upon creation of an original design or other work or upon building up a reputation in a brand name.

With most forms of intellectual property, the protection afforded expires after a finite term. However, this is not true for all forms; some protection can subsist ad infinitum.

The various forms of intellectual property are briefly:

Patents, including supplementary protection certificates

Trade marks, including domain names

Designs, including semi-conductor topography rights


Other rights, including confidentiality, trade secrets and plant variety rights


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