What is intellectual property? Essentially the fruit of a person’s creativity, intellectual property is the ownership rights to these intangibles. In other words, intellectual property is original work of some kind, usually in scientific or artistic fields.
The creators of original works have particular legal rights, particularly the right to control use of the work. So the question "What is intellectual property?" is best answered in specifics about particular types of intellectual property and how the rights of creators are protected.
What Is Intellectual Property and How Is It Protected?
- Inventions are intellectual property that are protected by patents. See How to Get a Patent in Canada.
- Literary, musical and artistic works, including computer programs, are intellectual property protected by copyright. See Copyright in Canada.
- Trademarks protect intellectual property created to distinguish the products and/or services of one company from other in the marketplace. See Trademark Registration in Canada.
- Industrial designs, intellectual property consisting of the “visual features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament (or any combination of these) applied to a manufactured article” (Canadian Intellectual Property Office) are protected by registration.
- The designs of integrated circuit topography are also intellectual property that are protected by registration.
- The creation of new varieties of some plant species is also intellectual property and is protected by Plant Breeders' Rights.
The important point about intellectual property is that except for copyright, intellectual property rights are not inherent in creation. If you want to protect your intellectual property, you need to actively seek protection by going through the process and getting a patent, a trademark, or registering your design.