What is Intellectual Property and Intellectual Property Rights
As technology continues to propel the world, it is knowledge that drives technology, and it is this knowledge that forms the basis of intellectual property. When knowledge is put to use constructively and creatively, it becomes a valuable asset. It becomes intellectual property, and it has to be protected by law.
Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce; and intellectual property rights (IPR) are the rights that have been awarded, by law, to the creators of intellectual work. (WIPO, n.d.)
Intellectual property is divided into two main categories: industrial property and copyright. Industrial property covers, among other things, patents, trademarks, trade secrets, and geographic indicators of source. Copyright, on the other hand, covers literary and artistic works, which include, but is not limited to, photographs, books (fictional and non-fictional), music, plays, film, performing artists and their performances, and computer programs (the source code).
In addition to the two main categories mentioned above, there is a new and emerging category of intellectual property: Sui Generis systems. The word Sui Generis is Latin, meaning of its own kind, and literally means unique. These types of intellectual property are new and emerging, and cover areas such as database protection and integrated circuit design.
Rights of this type are awarded to companies, or individuals, for their innovations and creations, and it protects them by preventing others from reproducing their creations without their prior knowledge or consent, for a fixed period of time. These creations are usually new and have some commercial value.
Patents are granted to inventors for their creations (inventions), and prevent unauthorized use of their inventions by granting exclusive rights to the inventor preventing others from using their inventions commercially, for a fixed period of time, without their prior consent.
A trademark is a mark (letter, shape, symbol, or name) that is used to identify a company or its product. They are used by companies in industry to distinguish one company‚Äôs product from another, or simply to distinguish one company from another. They also prevent the consumer from getting confused about the producer of a particular product.
Geographic Indicators of Source
Geographic indicators of source are marks (names or symbols) that are used to identify the geographic origin of a product. This type of identification is needed because products from a particular region [in the world] may have peculiar, but valuable properties, and consumers need a way of identifying products from specific regions [on earth].
Industrial Design and Trade secrets
Industrial designs are used to protect the aesthetic aspects of an object (shape, texture, pattern, or color), rather than the technical features, whereas trade secrets are used to protect commercially valuable information about production methods, business plans, clientele, etc.
The purpose of copyright is to protect the creators of literary and artistic work from having their work reproduced, recorded, performed publicly, broadcasted, translated, or adapted, without their prior consent, for their lifetime plus an additional fixed period. This right is intrinsic in the work from the time it is created.
Copyright protects the way in which literary and artistic work is expressed, and not the idea that the literary or artistic work is trying to convey. It protects the expression of the idea and not the idea itself.
Rights Related to Copyright
These kinds of rights surround performing artists and their performances, producers of sound recordings and their recordings, and broadcasting organizations and their broadcasts. They are related to copyright, but not copyright.
Sui Generis Systems
This system is used to protect new and unique forms of knowledge, which do not fall under the traditional areas of intellectual property. Databases and the layout of integrated circuits are two of these types of systems.