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ICT Policy Themes > Intellectual Property

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Intellectual property (IP) is an intangible thing such as an idea or innovation that, in most parts of the world, you can own, similar to the way that you can own tangible things like a car or a plot of land. The intangible thing can be something that you have written, drawn, designed, invented, or spoken, and it can be something that you have created yourself or paid someone to create for you. Like tangible property, you can buy, sell, exchange or give away intellectual property, and you can control its use by others. However, in order for your intangible thing to qualify as intellectual property so you can gain these rights, you have to be able to distinguish it from similar things.

There are many different perspectives on intellectual property and many people feel that current intellectual property regimes need to change. Some feel that these regimes need to be tightened, to apply stricter rules to the ownership and control of ideas, while others feel that there should be fundamental transformation of IP regimes to ensure equitable public access and stimulate innovation. Some even argue that IP should be eliminated in its entirety.

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