Intellectual Property – intangible rights protecting commercially valuable products of the human intellect:

intellectual property:

1. A category of intangible rights protecting commercially valuable products of the human intellect.  *  The category comprises primarily trademark, copyright, and patent rights, but also includes trade-secret rights, publicity rights, moral rights, and rights against unfair competition.

2. A commercially valuable product of the human intellect, in a concrete or abstract form, such as a copyrightable work, a protectable trademark, a patentable invention, or a trade secret. — Abbr. IP. [1]

     Excerpt from Lionel Bently & Brad Sherman’s Intellectual Property Law (2001):

     “While there is a close relationship between intangible property and the tangible objects in which they are embodied, intellectual property rights are distinct and separate from property rights in tangible goods. For example, when a person posts a letter to someone, the personal property in the ink and parchment is transferred to the recipient. . . . [T]he sender (as author) retains intellectual property rights in the letter.” [2]

2. Property (examples: copyrights; patents; trade secrets) that is the physical or tangible result of original thought.  Modern technology has brought about widespread infringement of intellectual property rights. Example: the unauthorized reproduction and sale of videotapes, audiotapes, and computer software.  See infringement of copyright; infringement of patent; literary property; piracy. [3]

Hard Intellectual Property – excludes others from using the invention without the holder’s consent even if others find the innovation independently.

  • Patent – the governmental grant of a right, privilege, or authority to exclude others from making, using, marketing, selling, offering for sale, or importing an invention for a specified period (20 years from the date of filing); also the name for the official document so granting)
  • Trademark – word, phrase, logo, or other sensory symbol that serves as a signature for the manufacturer or seller to distinguish its products or services from those of others and to designate the source of goods or services. 

Soft Intellectual Property – does not preclude independent creation by third parties.

Intellectual-Property Crime – illegally copying and selling someone else’s intellectual property. [1]


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]: Lionel Bently & Brad Sherman, Intellectual Property Law 1-2 (2001)

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.


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