Intellectual property assets are part of the non-physical property of a business. According to World Intellectual Property Organization, “Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs and symbols, names and images used in commerce”. Intellectual property includes Copyrights, Patents, Trademarks, Geographical indications, Industrial designs and Trade secrets. They are mostly a creation of law and therefore protected by law making IP enforceable in a Court of law. Even so, not all legal systems recognize or safeguard these rights to the same extent.
Competitive intangibles like Know-how and Human capital are examples of other types of intangible assets. Intangible assets of all kinds may be protected to some extent by legal processes such as contracts, albeit contracts may only protect two parties rather than the entire world. Intangible assets are sometimes classified under categories such as marketing, customer, technology and contract-related.
Intellectual property rights also have an economic lifespan depending on the viability of the asset. They are also independently identifiable and transferable.
In understanding Intellectual property, the various types of intellectual Property are explained as follows;
1) Copyright: This is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. It varies from books, music, drawings, paintings, sculpture and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps and technical drawings.
2) Patents: This is an exclusive right given to an inventor. The aim of such protection is that the inventor determines how the inventions are used by external individuals. Patents are usually granted for a limited period.
3) Trademark: This is exclusive to a name, logo or sign that is particular to its source. The aim is that no similar trademark of a person is used by another, in order to avoid confusion in trade.
4) Industrial designs: Industrial design is an aspect of Intellectual property (“IP”) that focuses on the appearance of a product, resulting from features such as the lines or colours of the product or its ornamentation. An industrial design may consist of 3-dimensional features such as the shape of a product (a Coca-Cola bottle) or two-dimensional features such as patterns (a design on a clothing), lines or colour of a product; It may even consist of a combination of features.
5) Geographical Indications: They are signs and indications used on goods and products that originate from a specific territory, origin and place. They are easily identifiable as particular to a country and region.
Generally, Intellectual Property are intangible assets that have rights attached to it which can be valued to determine its economic value. When the value of an IP is known, it can be used in securing finances, attracting business partners, obtaining licenses and also adopting the best strategy in settlement of disputes.