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Intellectual property rights
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In law, intellectual property (IP) is an umbrella term for various legal entitlements which attach to certain names, written and recorded media, and inventions. The holders of these legal entitlements may exercise various exclusive rights in relation to the subject matter of the IP. The term intellectual property reflects the idea that this subject matter is the product of the mind or the intellect. The term implies that intellectual works are analogous to physical property and is consequently a matter of some controversy.

Intellectual property laws and enforcement vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. There are inter-governmental efforts to harmonise them through international treaties such as the 1994 World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), while other treaties may facilitate registration in more than one jurisdiction at a time. Disagreements over medical and software patents and the severity of copyright enforcement have so far prevented consensus on a cohesive international system.

Overview

Intellectual property laws confer a bundle of exclusive rights in relation to the particular form or manner in which ideas or information are expressed or manifested, and not in relation to the ideas or concepts themselves (see idea-expression divide). The term "intellectual property" denotes the specific legal rights which authors, inventors and other IP holders may hold and exercise, and not the intellectual work itself.

Intellectual property laws are designed to protect different forms of subject matter, although in some cases there is a degree of overlap.

-Copyright may subsist in creative and artistic works (e.g. books, movies, music, paintings, photographs, and software) and give a copyright holder the exclusive right to control reproduction or adaptation of such works for a certain period of time (historically a period of between 10 and 30 years depending on jurisdiction, more recently the life of the author plus several decades).

-A patent may be granted for a new, useful, and non-obvious invention, and gives the patent holder a right to prevent others from practicing the invention without a license from the inventor for a certain period of time (typically 20 years from the filing date of a patent application).

-A trademark is a distinctive sign which is used to distinguish the products or services of different businesses.

-An industrial design right protects the form of appearance, style or design of an industrial object (e.g. spare parts, furniture, or textiles).

-A trade secret (which is sometimes either equated with, or a subset of, "confidential information") is secret, non-public information concerning the commercial practices or proprietary knowledge of a business, public disclosure of which may sometimes be illegal.

Patents, trademarks, and designs rights are sometimes collectively known as industrial property, as they are typically created and used for industrial or commercial purposes.

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Intellectual property rights