Intellectual Property

Intellectual property refers to the ownership of intangible and non-physical goods. This includes ideas, names, designs, symbols, artwork, writings, and other creations. It also refers to digital media, such as audio and video clips that can be downloaded online.

Since intellectual property is intangible, it is more difficult to protect than other types of property. For example, tangible property, such as a car, can be recovered or replaced if it is stolen. However, if intellectual property is stolen, it may be difficult to recover. Say for example, a person comes up with a great idea for a new invention. If someone else steals the idea, the potential profit of the invention may also be taken away. Similarly, if a digital recording of a new song is "leaked" on the Internet, thousands of people may download it and redistribute it to others. If this happens, the profit potential of selling the music may be substantially diminished.

Because of its monetary implications, intellectual property it is often used as a legal term to safeguard the rights of creators and inventors. It has also become increasingly important to media production companies who need to protect the distribution of their digital media. By defining and establishing intellectual property rights, innovators and creators can have legal protection of their ideas and creations. This may be done by copyrighting written works, applying for patents for inventions, and trademarking brands, names, and logos. Of course, the sooner these legal steps are taken, the better. After all, it is much easier to protect an idea before it is stolen than after someone else takes it!

Updated November 6, 2007

Definitions by TechTerms.com

The definition of Intellectual Property on this page is an original TechTerms.com definition. If you would like to reference this page or cite this definition, you can use the green citation links above.

The goal of TechTerms.com is to explain computer terminology in a way that is easy to understand. We strive for simplicity and accuracy with every definition we publish. If you have feedback about the Intellectual Property definition or would like to suggest a new technical term, please contact us.

Want to learn more tech terms? Subscribe to the daily or weekly newsletter and get featured terms and quizzes delivered to your inbox.

Sign up for the free TechTerms Newsletter

How often would you like to receive an email?

You can unsubscribe or change your frequency setting at any time using the links available in each email.

Questions? Please contact us.