So, What Is Intellectual Property, Anyway?

We all know what it means to own tangible property—items like a house, a bike, a car. But what about property that we’ve created in our minds, or ideas that we’ve distributed? This is called “intellectual property”, commonly shortened to “IP”, and it can be just as important, if not more so, than the tangible objects we own.

Specific Examples of IP

There are many types of intellectual property out there, and they typically categorized under two umbrellas: Industrial Property or Copyrights. Let’s take a look at some specific examples from each category.

Industrial Property

Industrial property, just in case the “industrial” aspect of it didn’t give it away, refers to the sort of intellectual property that would be used in a day-to-day business setting. Examples of these might include the following:

  • Industrial designs, which might be less-than-full-scale, potentially functional models of a future industrial product
  • Patents that protect new inventions
  • Geographic indicators


On the flip side, we have copyrights, which are typically considered more creative and less specifically functional than industrial property and might be more for entertainment purposes. Some specific examples of these could include the following:

  • Literature, such as a collection of short stories, a novel, or a children’s picture book
  • Artistic creations, which might include paintings, portraits, sculpture, sketches or prints
  • Cinematography-related work, including feature-length movies and short films

At this point, you may have a general understanding of what IP is and how it is defined. In spite of this, you may be asking yourself what’s the point in defining IP in the first place. Well, the biggest reason for doing so is because, in spite of IP being mostly in idea or theoretical, rather than functional, form, it forms the groundwork for this tangible form. An inventor did not just create a best-selling vacuum cleaner—he had a unique suction idea that led to an industrial design before a prototype was created. Similarly, a famous artist did not simply sit down and paint a masterpiece—she was first struck with inspiration for it. So, what kind of rights are afforded to those who would like to protect their IP?

Rights of Intellectual Property Stakeholders

Like all other existing property rights, IP rights are extended to the holder of the idea through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ Article 27. This document, which was adopted after World War II by the United Nations, declares that all moral and material interests manifested from these ideas are protected.

What’s In It for You?

You’re undoubtedly an intelligent person, but you don’t think you’re going to be coming up with the next great invention anytime soon. That’s perfectly fine. In spite of this, IP rights still make a difference in your life! Just think about where you encounter them every day.

  • New music – Enjoying the new Taylor Swift album? Okay, perhaps that’s not your cup of tea. But how about some Red Hot Chili Peppers then? Regardless of taste, IP rights on music—which would fall under copyrights—allow musicians to pursue their craft and support themselves, which in turn allows you to listen to new music every single day.
  • Brands – Enjoying that Apple computer? Sure, you are, and your mind is at ease because it comes from a trusted manufacturer. Without IP here—specifically, industrial property—your computer might have come from a fake brand, and could crash at any second.

Like it has been for nearly a decade now, today’s world is extremely high-tech. We need intellectual property rights to ensure that every new, great, and life-changing idea someone comes up with is protected.