EmailEmail    |   Bookmark Page Bookmark  |   RSS Feeds RSS  |   Print Page Print  

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property is any product of the human intellect that is unique, novel, nonobvious, and has some value in the marketplace.  Intellectual property includes patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets and know-how.  Intellectual property allows people to own their creativity in the same way that they can own physical property.  The owner of IP can control and can be rewarded for its use, and this encourages further innovation to the benefit of society.

The writers of the Constitution understood that a U.S. Citizen has the right to protect the useful products can result from mental labor as well as physical labor. Over the years, a number of federal and international laws and best practices have evolved to protect so called “intellectual property.” The table below compares “intellectual property” with “real property.”


Real Property

Intellectual Property


Personal Automobile

Formula for a Synthetic Compound

How Acquired

With Cash Obtained Performing Physical Labor

With Time Spent Performing Mental Labor

Basic Rights

Ownership of Your Body

Ownership of Your Mind

Physical Attributes






Value to Others 



What's Protected 

The Property Itself

Profit from Use 

How it's Protected 

Laws Related to Theft 

Patent and Copyright Law 

Can be Sold or Licensed 



While in its initial construct, intellectual property has no tangible form, it can be described in the “physical” pages of scientific publications and patents. Moreover, one can produce tangible commercial embodiments of “intellectual property.” For example, vials of a new drug are embodiments of a new compound described in a patent application.

Contact the OTD

Phone: 414-955-4362

Fax: 414-955-6427



Curative Care Network Bldg
1000 N. 92nd St
Milwaukee, WI 53226

OTD Web Site

Please wait while we gather your results.

Site Map  |  Tour  |  Home
© 2014 Medical College of Wisconsin
Page Updated 05/02/2014