Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property: Basics

  • Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.​
  • IP is protected in law by patent, copyright, and trademark law. These laws enable people to earn recognition and/or financial benefit from what they invent or create. ​
  • The IP system aims to foster an environment in which creativity and innovation can flourish by striking a balance between the interests of creators and the public.

Copyright Law

  • Copyright law (sometimes referred to as authors’ rights in continental legal regimes) is a legal discipline that describes the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works.​
  • Works covered by copyright range from books, journals, articles, music, paintings, sculpture, and films, to computer programs, maps, and technical drawings. The selection and arrangement of data may also be eligible for copyright protection.​
  • Copyright law is the mechanism through which publishing houses are able to manage the content they own and license, and the bundle of rights can be divvied to achieve an appropriate balance of protection (e.g., so that publishers can recover their investment), openness (e.g., for public access), and responsible stewardship of the scientific record (e.g., by enabling right holders to pursue legal remedies for pirated and compromised content.

STM engages with copyright law and policy in a variety of ways:​

  • The Open Research Committee undertakes a variety of activities, especially with respect to following legislative and policy proposals on open access, copyright exceptions, and national policies that affect members’ ability to design their own OA business models;​
  • The Enforcement Task Force (ETF) assesses threats to members’ intellectual property rights and seeks solutions to perceived threats by way of communication, education, and occasional legal action. The ETF works in tandem with a variety of other organizations to fulfil its goals;​ and
  • The Legal Forum provides a space for members to exchange information and suggest input for STM’s work on a range of outputs such as government agency requests for information, draft policy papers coming from international government organizations, and proposed domestic legislation, among other efforts.

Content in Intellectual Property