Intellectual property (IP) is a category of
The main purpose of intellectual property law is to encourage the creation of a large variety of intellectual goods. To achieve this, the law gives people and businesses property rights to the information and intellectual goods they create – usually for a limited period of time. This gives economic incentive for their creation, because it allows people to profit from the information and intellectual goods they create. These economic incentives are expected to stimulate innovation and contribute to the technological progress of countries, which depends on the extent of protection granted to innovators.
"Literary property" was the term predominantly used in the British legal debates of the 1760s and 1770s over the extent to which authors and publishers of works also had rights deriving from the common law of property (
The German equivalent was used with the founding of the
The organization subsequently relocated to Geneva in 1960, and was succeeded in 1967 with the establishment of the
"The history of patents does not begin with inventions, but rather with royal grants by
Queen Elizabeth I(1558–1603) for monopoly privileges... Approximately 200 years after the end of Elizabeth's reign, however, a patent represents a legal rightobtained by an inventor providing for exclusive control over the production and sale of his mechanical or scientific invention... [demonstrating] the evolution of patents from royal prerogative to common-law doctrine."
The term can be found used in an October 1845
Massachusetts Circuit Court ruling in the patent case Davoll et al. v. Brown., in which Justice Charles L. Woodbury wrote that "only in this way can we protect intellectual property, the labors of the mind, productions and interests are as much a man's own...as the wheat he cultivates, or the flocks he rears." The statement that "discoveries are..property" goes back earlier. Section 1 of the
French law of 1791 stated, "All new discoveries are the property of the author; to assure the inventor the property and temporary enjoyment of his discovery, there shall be delivered to him a patent for five, ten or fifteen years." In Europe,
Until recently, the purpose of intellectual property law was to give as little protection as possible in order to encourage
The concept's origins can potentially be traced back further.
According to Jean-Frédéric Morin, "the global intellectual property regime is currently in the midst of a paradigm shift". Indeed, up until the early 2000s the global IP regime used to be dominated by high standards of protection characteristic of IP laws from Europe or the United States, with a vision that uniform application of these standards over every country and to several fields with little consideration over social, cultural or environmental values or of the national level of economic development. Morin argues that "the emerging discourse of the global IP regime advocates for greater policy flexibility and greater access to knowledge, especially for developing countries." Indeed, with the Development Agenda adopted by WIPO in 2007, a set of 45 recommendations to adjust WIPO's activities to the specific needs of developing countries and aim to reduce distortions especially on issues such as patients’ access to medicines, Internet users’ access to information, farmers’ access to seeds, programmers’ access to source codes or students’ access to scientific articles. However, this paradigm shift has not yet manifested itself in concrete legal reforms at the international level.
Similarly, it is based on these background that the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement requires members of the WTO to set minimum standards of legal protection, but its objective to have a “one-fits-all” protection law on Intellectual Property has been viewed with controversies regarding differences in the development level of countries. Despite the controversy, the agreement has extensively incorporated intellectual property rights into the global trading system for the first time in 1995, and has prevailed as the most comprehensive agreement reached by the world.