Intellectual property (IP) is a legal field that refers to creations of the mind such as musical, literary, and artistic works; inventions; and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce, including copyrights, trademarks, patents, and related rights. Under intellectual property law, the holder of one of these abstract "properties" has certain exclusive rights to the creative work, commercial symbol, or invention by which it is covered.
Intellectual property rights are a bundle of exclusive rights over creations of the mind, both artistic and commercial. The former is covered by copyright laws, which protect creative works such as books, movies, music, paintings, photographs, and software and gives the copyright holder exclusive right to control reproduction or adaptation of such works for a certain period of time. The second category is collectively known as "industrial properties", as they are typically created and used for industrial or commercial purposes. A patent may be granted for a new, useful, and non-obvious invention, and gives the patent holder a right to prevent others from practicing the invention without a license from the inventor for a certain period of time. A trademark is a distinctive sign which is used to prevent confusion among products in the marketplace. An industrial design right protects the form of appearance, style or design of an industrial object from infringement. A trade secret is non-public information concerning the commercial practices or proprietary knowledge of a business. Public disclosure of trade secrets may sometimes be illegal. The term "intellectual property" denotes the specific legal rights described above, and not the intellectual work itself.
Intellectual property rights give creators exclusive rights to their creations, thereby providing an incentive for the author or inventor to develop and share the information rather than keep it secret. The...