From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
In law, intellectual property (IP) is an umbrella term for various legal entitlements which attach to certain names, written and recorded media, and inventions. The holders of these legal entitlements may exercise various exclusive rights in relation to the subject matter of the IP. The term intellectual property reflects the idea that this subject matter is the product of the mind or the intellect. The term implies that intellectual works are analogous to physical property and is consequently a matter of some controversy.
Intellectual property laws and enforcement vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. There are inter-governmental efforts to harmonise them through international treaties such as the 1994 World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), while other treaties may facilitate registration in more than one jurisdiction at a time. Disagreements over medical and software patents and the severity of copyright enforcement have so far prevented consensus on a cohesive international system.