Intellectual Property

Intellectual property can be defined as "the fruits of one's intellect" (Wherry, as cited in Butler, 2005).

Intellectual property laws provide protection of the owners of the works. There are many different categories of intellectual property that are described by Butler (2005) as follows:

  • A privilege of law, given to owners of tangible works.
  • The owner of the work has the right to reproduce, copy, distribute, publicly perform or display work and create derivatives of it.

2. Patents
  • The government grants a monopoly of an invention for a specific period of time (20 years in the US).
  • The owner of the patent is the only one to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import a specific invention.

3. Trademark
  • Something that distinguishes products from one another and includes: symbols, logos, sounds & designs.
  • Others cannot make or sell a product with a particular mark on it

4. Trade Secrets
  • Pieces of information that give one company an advantage over another (ex. "secret" ingredient in a recipe).

5. Brand Names
  • Names by which a particular product is known (ie. Kleenex, Xerox, Coca-Cola)

*It is important to note that one work may be found under more than one intellectual property category.

Butler, Rebecca P. (Sep/Oct, 2005). Intellectual Property Defined. Knowledge Quest. 34 (1), p. 41.