The term intellectual property refers to the products that result from human inventive or creative efforts. It encompasses inventions, artistic works, commercial logos and designs, and methods to achieve certain results. Musical compositions, photographs, and computer programs are examples of intellectual properties. Most countries around the world have laws that allow a person to exclude others from making, reproducing, or selling his or her creations of this kind. This entry introduces the four main kinds of intellectual property and notes its historical origins.


There are four major kinds of protections for intellectual properties, each of which confers upon creators a specific bundle of rights. First, a patent grants inventors the right to exclude others from making or selling an invention, for a limited period of time, ...

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