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What is intellectual property?

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ESA / About Us / Law at ESA / Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual Property (IP) refers to the protection of creations of the mind, which have both a moral and a commercial value.

IP law typically grants the author of an intellectual creation exclusive rights for exploiting and benefiting from their creation. However, these rights, also called monopoly right of exploitation, are limited in scope, duration and geographical extent.

IP protection is intended to stimulate the creativity of the human mind for the benefit of all by ensuring that the advantages derived from exploiting a creation benefit the creator. This will encourage creative activity and allow investors in research and development a fair return on their investment.

IP confers on individuals, enterprises or other entities the right to exclude others from the use of their creations. Consequently, intellectual property rights (IPRs) may have a direct and substantial impact on industry and trade as the owner of an IPR may - through the enforcement of such a right - prevent the manufacture, use or sale of a product which incorporates the IPR.

For this reason control over the intangible asset (IPR) connotes control of the product and markets.

IP protection encourages the publication, distribution and disclosure of the creation to the public, rather than keeping it secret while at the same time encouraging commercial enterprises to select creative works for exploitation.

Intellectual property legal titles relates to the acquisition and use of a range of rights covering different type of creations. These may be industrial or literary and artistic.

IP Protection
Types of protection of IP Subject matter Main fields of application
Patents New, non-obvious, industrially applicable inventions All industries, e.g.chemicals, drugs, plastics, motors, turbines, electronics, scientific equipments, communication equipments, etc.
Trademarks Signs or symbols to identify goods and services All industries
Industrial designs Ornamental designs All industries, e.g.electronics, automobiles, kitchenware, etc.
Topography of semi-conductor products Original layout design Micro-electronics industry
Copyright Original work of authorship Publications, videos, photos, broadcasting, etc.
Neighbouring rights Original work of authorship Performing artists, of producers of phonogrammes and broadcasting organisations, etc
Protection against unfair competition All the above All industries
Trade secrets Secret business information All industries

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