What is Intellectual Property?


Intellectual Property refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs and symbols, or names and images used in commerce. Intellectual property is divided in different categories:

  • Copyright: This type of rights includes those of performing artists, producers and broadcasters. They cover literary works such as novels, poems and plays, but also films, music and any other artistic works.
  • Patents: A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention. Generally speaking, a patent provides the patent owner with the right to decide how – or whether – the invention can be used by others. In exchange for this right, the patent owner makes technical information about the invention publicly available in the published patent document.
  • Trademarks: A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. Trademarks date back to ancient times when craftsmen used to put their signature on their products.
  • Industrial designs: An industrial design constitutes the ornamental or aesthetic aspect of an article. A design may consist of three-dimensional features, such as the shape or surface of an article, or of two-dimensional features, such as patterns, lines or color.
  • Geographical indications: Geographical indications and appellations of origin are signs used on goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities, a reputation or characteristics that are essentially attributable to that place of origin. Most commonly, a geographical indication includes the name of the place of origin of the goods.

Intellectual property rights allow their holders to benefit from their creations and gives them protection of moral and material interest resulting from authorship of scientific, literary or artistic productions.

The progress and well-being of humanity rest on its capacity to create and invent new technological and cultural works. In addition, the legal protection of new creations encourages the commitment of additional resources for further innovation. Also, the promotion and protection of intellectual property spurs economic growth, creates new jobs and industries and enhances the quality and enjoyment of life.

The importance of intellectual property was first recognized in the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883) and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886). Both treaties are administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).