Intellectual property (IP) can be anything from a particular manufacturing process to plans for a product launch, a trade secret like a chemical formula, or a list of the countries in which your patents are registered. It may help to think of it as intangible proprietary information. The formal definition, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization is creations of the mind — inventions, literary and artistic works, symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce. IP includes but is not limited to proprietary formulas and ideas, inventions (products and processes), industrial designs, and geographic indications of source, as well as literary and artistic works such as novels, films, music, architectural designs and web pages.
Your company’s intellectual property, whether that’s patents, trade secrets or just employee know-how, may be more valuable than its physical assets. This primer covers everything from establishing basic policies and procedures for intellectual property protection.
From a legal standpoint, there are four types of intellectual property (Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights and Trade secrets). IP registered in one of those categories with state and federal agencies is protected by law, and if infringed upon or otherwise abused, the infringers can be prosecuted.