Types of Intellectual Property Rights


Copyright gives originators of a wide variety of intellectual creations – such as a song, a play or a piece of software – the sole right to produce or reproduce their work for a defined period of time. This right is automatic in that it is assumed to be in effect even if the originator does not register their creation.


A trademark is a word, symbol or design (or a combination of these features) that is used to distinguish the products or services of one person or organization from those of others. With time, trademarks come to represent the reputation of the producer as well as their products or services. The owner of a registered trademark may begin legal proceedings to prevent unauthorized use by others. Well-known trademarks include FedEx® and Coca-Cola®.


Patents give inventors the right to prevent others from making, using or selling their inventions – such as processes, equipment and manufacturing techniques – for a defined period of time. The procedure for granting patents, the requirements placed on the patentee, and the extent of the exclusive rights vary widely between countries according to national laws and international agreements.

Industrial Designs

An industrial design consists of the visual features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation (or any combination of these features) applied to a finished article made by hand, tool or machine. Registering an industrial design gives the designer exclusive rights to the design, including preventing others from making, importing, renting or selling an article of very similar design for a defined period of time.

Integrated Circuit Topographies

Topographies are three-dimensional circuit designs used in many products that employ modern electronics. Examples of such products include automobiles, industrial robots, cameras, spacecraft and computers. Registering a topography gives the creator exclusive rights for a defined period of time.

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