Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce.
IP is divided into two categories: Industrial property, which includes inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs, and geographic indications of source; and Copyright, which includes literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and architectural designs.
Intellectual property rights provide legal rights over creations of the mind, including both artistic and commercial creations. Intellectual property law provides owners with certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets, as well the financial incentive of monopoly profits. The common types of intellectual property are copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights and trade secrets.
Copyright: Copyright laws protect artistic creations such as books, movies, music, paintings, photographs, and software. You do not obtain the rights for ever, usually for 50 to 100 hundred years, after which point your work is said to enter the public domain.
Trademarks: A trademark is a sign that is used to identify a product or service to consumers as originating from a unique source and to distinguish that product or service from other entities. A trademark is typically given to a name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image or combination.
Patent: A patent is set of exclusive rights that are provided by a state to an inventor in exchange for a disclosure of an invention. The patent provides the inventor the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling that invention. The right is for a limited time and usually lasts for 20 years after the filing date.
Industrial Design Rights: Industrial design rights are a set of intellectual property rights that protect the visual design of objects. The creation of shape, configuration or composition of pattern or color or combination of pattern and color containing aesthetic value constitutes an industrial design. The rights last for fourteen years.
Trade Secret: A trade secret is a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern or compilation of information which is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable. Additionally, a business should be able to obtain an economic advantage over competitors or customers by keeping this information private.