Types of Intellectual Property

by Stephan Kinsella on March 4, 2011

“Intellectual property” is an umbrella term that includes many types of legal rights. Lumping them together and calling them IP is fairly recent and done for propagandistic reasons.1

It’s traditionally understood to include “the big four”:

  • patent
  • copyright
  • trademark
  • trade secret

It also includes more modern legal IP rights,2 including:

Reputation rights (protected by defamation (libel and slander) law) are not usually considered IP but I think they should be; similar motivations and argument and flaws.

New rights are proposed all the time:

The latest I’ve heard is the proposal by Hank Barry (in a recent appearance on TWiL), former CEO for Napster and now an IP lawyer, who wants to reform copyright law by adding “a right of community in works of authorship.” As he writes: “So, should an author whose work has generated substantial amounts of money as the object or locus for a community have a right to benefit from those economics, even if the economics are one step removed from the sale of a copy of the work?”

  1. See Intellectual Properganda. []
  2. See The Mountain of IP Legislation. []
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