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Intellectual property

Ownership of creative expressions and processes / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect.[1][2] There are many types of intellectual property, and some countries recognize more than others.[3][4][5] The best-known types are patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. The modern concept of intellectual property developed in England in the 17th and 18th centuries. The term "intellectual property" began to be used in the 19th century, though it was not until the late 20th century that intellectual property became commonplace in most of the world's legal systems.[6]

Intellectual property laws such as trademark laws forbid the sale of infringing goods like these "McDnoald's" [sic] and "NKIE" [sic] sandals from China.

Supporters of intellectual property laws often describe their main purpose as encouraging the creation of a wide variety of intellectual goods.[7] To achieve this, the law gives people and businesses property rights to certain information and intellectual goods they create, usually for a limited period of time. Supporters argue that because IP laws allow people to protect their original ideas and prevent unauthorized copying, creators derive greater individual economic benefit from the information and intellectual goods they create, and thus have more economic incentives to create them in the first place.[7] Advocates of IP believe that these economic incentives and legal protections stimulate innovation and contribute to technological progress of certain kinds.[8]

The intangible nature of intellectual property presents difficulties when compared with traditional property like land or goods. Unlike traditional property, intellectual property is "indivisible", since an unlimited number of people can in theory "consume" an intellectual good without its being depleted.[9] Additionally, investments in intellectual goods suffer from appropriation problems: Landowners can surround their land with a robust fence and hire armed guards to protect it, but producers of information or literature can usually do little to stop their first buyer from replicating it and selling it at a lower price. Balancing rights so that they are strong enough to encourage the creation of intellectual goods but not so strong that they prevent the goods' wide use is the primary focus of modern intellectual property law.[10]

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