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03Dec
2012

Intellectual Property: the Basics

The term “intellectual property” refers to a legal property interest in “creations of the mind”: such things as ideas, music, words, inventions, discoveries, artistic works, scientific innovations, phrases, symbols, and designs. It differs from “real property”, which is the term used to describe a property interest in land, and “personal property”, which refers to physical property other than land.

We often think of local governments as concerned primarily with the “bricks and mortar” of civic life: paving roads, collecting sewage and garbage, and providing and maintaining public spaces such as parks and community centres. Yet any organization with a significant reputation in the community, or one which deals routinely in the creation and exchange of information, should have at least a basic understanding of intellectual property. Indeed, in the information age, it is safe to say that local governments deal with intellectual property daily. A failure to understand and appreciate intellectual property issues can create significant financial or logistical problems for local governments.

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