Intellectual Property (IP) generally refers to four separate and distinct types of intangible property – patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. Like real and personal property, intellectual property is an asset, which can be bought, sold, licensed, exchanged, or even given away. Owners of intellectual property have the exclusive right to prevent the unauthorized use or sale of their intellectual property. Creations of the mind that are covered under intellectual property law include musical, literary, and artistic works; discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs.
Intellectual property is protected by law on a national basis, meaning that U.S. intellectual property laws only apply within the geographical boundaries of the U.S. Exclusive rights allow owners to benefit from the property they have created by providing a financial incentive for the creation of, and investment in intellectual property.
Intellectual property rights and the laws that protect them enable economic growth and job creation. Economists have estimated that two-thirds of the value of large businesses in the U.S. can be traced to intangible assets like intellectual property.