Intellectual property, or 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 patents, copyright and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they have invented or created.
The grand idea is that innovators should get compensation for their creations and inventions, which would in turn help creativity and innovation flourish.
So what constitutes IP? Are the following examples of IP?
1. Apple got a patent so no one can make a product that is rectangular with rounded corners.
2. Taylor Swift trademarked phrases from her song lyrics like "Nice to meet you, where you been?"
3. The Government has launched a S$1 billion Makara Innovation Fund to seek out innovative companies from around the world with strong, globally competitive IP, to groom them for regional expansion.
4. Singapore company Razer sells computer gaming hardware, yet owns no land, factories or inventory. It however has a portfolio of over 1,000 IPs - trademarks, designs and patents - and is valued at US$1.5 billion (S$2.1 billion).
5. A Singapore company with 30 years in the business was going to be sold for four times its operating profit. Then a business adviser found that it had 30 years of data. The company sold for 32 times its operating profit, thanks to the IP in that data.
Answer: All of the above are true.
Which goes to show, IP matters, and can earn your company a bundle of money.
The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (Ipos) has recently launched several initiatives to get the word out, build up our pool of IP experts and get more Singaporean students, professionals and businesses clued in on IP.
These include undergraduate courses, training programmes, consultancy services and that S$1 billion Makara Innovation Fund.
Ultimately, Ipos wants Singapore to be a regional IP hub, where businesses have a strong IP strategy in place and where people come to seek out expert IP advice and services and get their innovative companies off the ground.
For a fuller article on IP, go to: Intellectual property: The next big thing in business