What is 'Intellectual Property'

Intellectual property is a broad categorical description for the set of intangibles owned and legally protected by a company from outside use or implementation without consent. Intellectual property can consist of patents, trade secrets, copyrights and trademarks, or simply ideas.

The concept of intellectual property relates to the fact that certain products of human intellect should be afforded the same protective rights that apply to physical property. Most developed economies have legal measures in place to protect both forms of property.

BREAKING DOWN 'Intellectual Property'

Companies are diligent when it comes to identifying and protecting intellectual property because it holds such high value in today's increasingly knowledge-based economy. Extracting value from intellectual property and preventing others from deriving value from it is an important responsibility for any company.

Many forms of IP cannot be listed on the balance sheet as assets, but the value of such property tends to be reflected in the price of the stock. Management's ability to manage these effectively and turn a profit is just one example.

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