World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Intellectual Property Handbook

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The Concept of Intellectual Property

Intellectual property, very broadly, means the legal rights which result from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary and artistic fields. Countries have laws to protect intellectual property for two main reasons. One is to give statutory expression to the moral and economic rights of creators in their creations and the rights of the public in access to those creations. The second is to promote, as a deliberate act of Government policy, creativity and the dissemination and application of its results and to encourage fair trading which would contribute to economic and social development.

Generally speaking, intellectual property law aims at safeguarding creators and other producers of intellectual goods and services by granting them certain time-limited rights to control the use made of those productions. Those rights do not apply to the physical object in which the creation may be embodied but instead to the intellectual creation as such. Intellectual property is
traditionally divided into two branches, “industrial property” and “copyright.”

The Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), concluded in Stockholm on July 14, 1967 (Article 2(viii)) provides that “intellectual property shall include rights relating to:

  • literary, artistic and scientific works,
  • performances of performing artists, phonograms and broadcasts,
  • inventions in all fields of human endeavor,
  • scientific discoveries,
  • industrial designs,
  • trademarks, service marks and commercial names and designations,
  • protection against unfair competition,

and all other rights resulting from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary or artistic fields.”

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World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Intellectual Property Handbook (PDF 2.4MB)

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