What is intellectual property?

Last modified: February 8, 2021
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Intellectual property (IP) is anything that you create using your mind; a story, an invention, a photo, a design, a poem, music, or even a symbol is intellectual property. 

Intellectual property rights and their protection is crucial for economic growth, of an individual or a business, as it fuels creativity and innovation. 

To better understand what intellectual property is, here is the basic categories you should be aware of. 

There are four main types of intellectual property:

  • Copyrights
  • Patents
  • Trademarks
  • Industrial designs


A copyright is the legal protection of an original creation. Copyright protects original creations of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture.

The copyright owner has the exclusive right to sell, publish, and/or reproduce any work created.


A patent protects mostly inventions, such as machines, manufactured goods, industrial processes, and chemical compositions (i.e., drugs). It is the exclusive right granted for an invention, which offers a new way of doing something, or a new technical solution to a problem. 


A Trademark is a sign used to differentiate products or services of a company from those of other companies. It protects creations that identify a business value in the market, such as phrases, slogans, brand names, business names. It can also protect unique colors, schemes, sounds or even smells.

Industrial design:

An industrial design protects the visual features of an article. It may consist of three or two dimensional features, such as the shape of the article, its design, its patterns, or its color. Packages, furniture and household goods, textiles, jewelries, graphic symbols or even electronic devices can be protected by industrial design. 

Industrial design protection aims to prevent third parties from copying, selling or reproducing without the permission of the owner. 

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