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Property that derives from the work of an individual's mind or intellect. Early copyright law aimed to protect the economic interests of book publishers rather than the intellectual rights of authors. Modern copyright law protects the labour of elaborating an idea, but not the idea itself. The concept of discovery also plays a role in intellectual property rights: a patent is awarded to one who can demonstrate that he or she has invented something not previously known. The World Trade Organization requires members to establish and enforce minimum levels of copyright, patent, and trademark protection within their jurisdictions. The World Intellectual Property Organization, which began operations in 1970, promotes the worldwide protection of both industrial property (inventions, trademarks, and designs) and copyrighted materials (literary, musical, photographic, and other artistic works).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on intellectual property, visit Britannica.com.