Criminal law (2022): Crimes against property: Intellectual property (IP) (Part 01)


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Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect. There are many types of intellectual property, and some countries recognize more than others. The best-known types are copyrights, patents, 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 the majority of the world's legal systems.

The main purpose of intellectual property law is to encourage the creation of a wide variety of intellectual goods. To achieve this, the law gives people and businesses property rights to the information and intellectual goods they create, usually for a limited period of time. This gives economic incentive for their creation, because it allows people to benefit from the information and intellectual goods they create, and allows them to protect their ideas and prevent copying. These economic incentives are expected to stimulate innovation and contribute to the technological progress of countries, which depends on the extent of protection granted to innovators.

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 "consume" an intellectual good without its being depleted. Additionally, investments in intellectual goods suffer from problems of appropriation: 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.


Intellectual property rights include patents, copyright, industrial design rights, trademarks, plant variety rights, trade dress, geographical indications, and in some jurisdictions trade secrets. There are also more specialized or derived varieties of sui generis exclusive rights, such as circuit design rights (called mask work rights in the US), supplementary protection certificates for pharmaceutical products (after expiry of a patent protecting them), and database rights (in European law). The term "industrial property" is sometimes used to refer to a large subset of intellectual property rights including patents, trademarks, industrial designs, utility models, service marks, trade names, and geographical indications.


A patent is a form of right granted by the government to an inventor or their successor-in-title, giving the owner the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering to sell, and importing an invention for a limited period of time, in exchange for the public disclosure of the invention. An invention is a solution to a specific technological problem, which may be a product or a process and generally has to fulfill three main requirements: it has to be new, not obvious and there needs to be an industrial applicability.  To enrich the body of knowledge and stimulate innovation, it is an obligation for patent owners to disclose valuable information about their inventions to the public.


A copyright gives the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time. Copyright may apply to a wide range of creative, intellectual, or artistic forms, or "works". Copyright does not cover ideas and information themselves, only the form or manner in which they are expressed.

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