Intellectual Property Rights Management Basics

What Is Intellectual Property?

(IP) refers to an aspect of property (other than real estate) which is generated by the human mind or intellect. It also refers to an independent creation of a work through the use of the human mind. For instance, a novel written by an author is an Intellectual Property of the author.
Until the 18th – 19th Century, Intellectual Property was not legally recognized by the state or society. Exceptional works of art were celebrated as well as scientific innovations but they were not officially categorized as works of IP.
Intellectual Property began to rapidly develop in the 20th Century and is still greatly being developed in the U.S. and many other jurisdictions.
The ownership of an IP work is usually vested in the creator or employer in the case of “works-for-hire” also known in some countries as “commissioned works”. In some instances, ownership may be vested in an organization or two or more individuals or corporate entities.
In order to protect Intellectual Property works, the government often legislates the protection of IP as an incentive to boost that sector of the economy and drive innovation.
As at today, Intellectual Property is being internationally recognized in almost all the nations of the world. There are several municipal legislation, international organizations (e.g. World Intellectual Property Organization), international instruments (e.g Rome Convention Treaty), and courts or arbitral panels that oversee the dynamics of Intellectual Property.
Intellectual Property is now a vast area of resources studied by many professionals across the world. It consists of several divisions but the most popular areas of IP are Copyrights, Trademarks, Patents, and Industrial Designs.

What is intellectual property rights?

What Are Different Types Of Intellectual Property rights?

Intellectual Property Rights, This refers to the legal right in an existing work of IP that is granted to a person or business entity. There are several species of IP rights. They include but are not limited to: Copyrights, Patents, Trademarks, Trade Secrets, Geographical Indications, Industrial Designs, and Plant Varieties. Essentially, Intellectual Property rights were developed to give the exclusive control of a work, both in the use and reproduction or variation of the original work, to the creator.

Intellectual Property rights in a work can be divided into two:

  1. Economic Rights: These refer to the right to exploit the work in order to generate revenue. This can be done by exhibitions, sales, licensing, sharing agreements, royalty agreements, etc. These rights can be valued in terms of current market value and economic potential. Economic rights also cover the rights to reproduce, distribute, adapt/vary or translate the work. The most noteworthy feature of these rights is that they can be legally assigned to another individual or entity either wholly or partly.
  2. Moral Right: This is the inherent right of the creator in an IP work. According to some scholars and jurisdictions (especially in Europe), this right cannot be assigned by the creator. If at all, it can be assigned, it must be expressly stated. The reason for this is that it is believed that IP cannot be separated from the creator’s personhood. Thus, the creator reserves a non-assignable right to the work and to restrict other assignees, licensees, employers or any other person from altering the work in such a way that it destroys the reputation and image of the original creator.

Why is intellectual property important?

Intellectual Property (IP) is perhaps one of the most advancing wealth creation assets in the world today. Many companies, individuals, and governments are realizing the potential of IP and are using relevant IP laws to protect their works or creations.

Why is Intellectual Property important to an individual or to the growth of a company or the economy at large? The reasons are simple:

  • IP protected works have potential economic value e.g. sale of copyright in a musical composition
  • To keep others from claiming ownership
  • It enhances the reputation of the owner
  • It creates a brand
  • Forms part of the assets of the owner during the valuation of a business or individual or government
  • It excludes others including competitors from reproducing copies of the work without authorization

Different aspects or works are usually protected by various IP laws. The protection may be based on trademark, copyright, patent or industrial design. This means those logos, musical or literary compositions, new technologies, and aesthetic designs of a product can be protected. The protection of some works is automatic upon creation while some protections are granted upon application to the designated government agency.

If there is no ascertainable or protectable IP in work or creation, it implies that:

  • Competitors can reproduce the work freely without paying the owner or without authorization
  • There is little or no economic value or derivable income since there is no exclusivity
  • It cannot add value to the assets of the owner

There are different methods through which an IP work can be economically exploited. They can be licensed, leased, assigned or sold for valuable consideration.

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