postheadericon What is Intellectual Property?

IPconnect: from the Expert's Quill

Intellectual Property is a wonderful field, full of discovery and change. It is what drives the world’s commerce… the guiding force behind nearly everything with a price tag. IP is a term that 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:

1) Industrial property: including inventions (patents), brands (trademarks), industrial designs, and geographic indications of source; and

2) 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.

We are completely surrounded by stuff that was originally IP. Certainly the computer on which you are reading this blog – as well as the myriad components inside of it and the software that runs on it – began as IP. But less obvious (or remembered) are the desk and chair that you are sitting on. Or the glass opening in the wall which is protecting you from the weather outside. How about the design of the building in which you are in? Or the car and each individual piece and part of it that gets you to and from work? The chemical compounds that when put together created the flavor of your favorite beverage? Or the brands on the cans in the soda dispenser?

By comparison, I can really only think of a handful of things that were not at some point IP. Fire wasn’t. Though the method of manually creating it was. Granted that was a long, long time ago. And while the mechanical process of rubbing two sticks together was never protected, it WAS Intellectual Property!

Can an idea be protected?

Metaphorically speaking… no. The one thing that is absolutely not protectable, or worthy of merit for consideration as IP, is an idea. I can hear a lot of mumbling and grumbling going on in the background. Allow me to explain.

The word “idea” is defined as “Something, such as a thought or conception, that potentially or actually exists in the mind as a product of mental activity.” If it’s still in your head, well… it’s still in your head. There is no physical manifestation or tangible definition.

Only the expression of an idea can be protected: how it is made, how it works, the result of it doing what it does, etc. Just not the idea itself. Once that thought or concept gets documented or put into practice, it may then be protectable as IP.

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