What is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property (IP) 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: Industrial property, which includes inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs, and geographic indications of source; and 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. Rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and those of broadcasters in their radio and television programs. For an introduction to IP for non-specialists, refer to:
The innovations and creative expressions of indigenous and local communities are also IP, yet because they are “traditional” they may not be fully protected by existing IP systems. Access to, and equitable benefit-sharing in, genetic resources also raise IP questions. Normative and capacity-building programs are underway at WIPO to develop balanced and appropriate legal and practical responses to these issues. For more information, refer to:
Other useful information
- Country information concerning membership of WIPO and the treaties administered by WIPO
- IP legislation from a wide range of countries and various IP-related treaties at the multilateral, regional and bilateral level contained in WIPO Lex
- Contact details and other information concerning national IP offices in the Directory of Intellectual Property Offices
- Information on IP academies in WIPO’s Global Network on IP Academies
- WIPO intellectual property statistics
- Vision IP 2030 – Creating the World’s IP System of the Future, a film produced by the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Intellectual Property Video