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Intellectual property is the domain comprising all the exclusive rights granted on intellectual creations. It has two branches:

the literary and artistic property, which applies to intellectual works, is made up of copyright and neighboring rights.
industrial property, which includes utility creations on the one hand, such as the invention patent and the plant variety certificate or, on the contrary, a sui generis right of protection for plant varieties, and, on the other apart, the distinctive signs, in particular the trademark, the domain name and the designation of origin.
It includes a moral (extra-patrimonial) right which is the only right attached to the person of the author of the work which is perpetual, inalienable and imprescriptible, and which therefore applies post mortem, even after the work is placed in the public domain (i.e. 70 years from January 1 of the year following the death of the author).

It is the resulting work, and its form, which is protected, not the ideas and information which give rise to them, and which remain free of rights. Thus, the "summary" of a written work or the citation of a title in a bibliography is not considered as borrowing from what is protected by copyright in the work

Some figures in the free software movement denounce the semantic scam of the concept of "intellectual property", just as the recent patenting of living things has sparked lively ethical and legal controversies.

The expression seems to appear in law only in 1967 with the creation of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and has only become common in recent years

In general, information is free, with exceptions framed in many countries by legislation on secrecy and/or protection of confidential information or commercial or business secrets, which may contradict the general law of authors. to dispose of their intellectual works and favor certain concealments. Secrecy can be a problem when it is necessary to prove in order to patent it that an invention is new and original or even that it involves an inventive step.

Australia has created an Innovation Patent to help SMEs enter the intellectual property system cheaply.

In the field of patents where the technological context is rapidly changing, at the request of industrialists, new laws appear and evolve, to integrate new forms of works often going beyond the field of works "susceptible of industrial application" with for example some plant varieties, new molecules, micro-organisms from biotechnology, databases (when they have real originality and added value), the "computer-implemented invention", computer programs, layout designs (topographies) of integrated circuits, genetically modified organisms, and bioethics, taking into account traditional knowledge. In some countries, research organizations and universities, while helping their researchers to patent their discoveries, have issued regulations on intellectual property asserting the rights of the University overall inventions generated within it by its researchers, and "on how to manage their valuation ”

Some countries that have made research a priority have also encouraged, including legally patenting as a source of income. Thus, Japan has, in addition to its National Patent Office, a special court of justice within the Tokyo Court of Appeal, called the Intellectual Property Court, created by special laws (Law on the establishment of the Intellectual Property Court, Patent Law) and responsible for combating commercial damage caused by unfair competition (copies, plagiarism).