IP Primer - Forms of IP

Intellectual Property ("IP") consists of the expression of ideas. IP may exist in many forms, including without limitation artistic works, literary works, inventions, discoveries, processes, knowledge, data sets, data bases, audio visual and computer material or equivalent circuitry, biotechnology and genetic engineering products (including plant cultivars and germ plasma), computer software, circuit board schematics, and any other item, knowledge, thought, or product of research.

To further illustrate the difference between IP and other forms of property, consider the following situations:

A piece of paper with writing on it. The paper and the actual ink used to make the written marks are legally considered "tangible personal property", belonging to the person who bought the paper and pen. The information contained by the arrangement of the marks on the paper is "intellectual property", and is generally (subject to some exceptions) owned by the person who created the information.

A mural painted on the outside wall of a down-town office building. The office building is legally considered "real property". The paint used to create the mural is either "real property" or "personal property" (depending upon whether or not it is affixed to the land ... a question that is very legal and the answer to which is not necessary for our purposes). The arrangement of the paint molecules, including differences in colour and texture, form "intellectual property".