April 26 marked World Intellectual Property Day, which celebrates the role intellectual property (IP) rights play in spurring innovation, creativity and technological progress. But what exactly is IP? The World IP Organisation (Wipo) refers to IP as creations of the mind — for example, inventions, literary and artistic work and symbols, names, images and designs used in commerce. IP is omnipresent and surrounds us in all that we do during our everyday lives. The intangible nature of IP should not detract from its importance to society. One of the major benefits of this intangible nature is that IP has a tremendous ability to reach a vast number of people at one time. Given the intangible nature of IP, innovators face a challenge to appropriate the economic benefits of their ideas. To overcome this problem, governments grant IP protections to assist innovators and provide incentives for innovation and IP dissemination. Wipo director-general Francis Gurry says: “IP is a crucial part o...

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