There exists a class of property which is recognised by the law as being as important as moveable and immoveable property such as land, buildings and cars. This class of property is known as Intellectual Property.

Intellectual property refers to the product of a creative activity which is protected by law. ‘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’[1]. Intellectual property rights are rights which are conferred on the creators of intellectual property.

Intellectual property rights are like any other property rights, it vests in the holder of the right a right to exploit his intellectual property for his own benefit and to control the use of his intellectual property. Intellectual property rights are a divisible bundle of rights; intellectual property rights can be described as a cake which can be cut into different slices and each person given a slice. Thus Intellectual property rights can be referred to as a divisible bundle of rights because different rights which are bundled up in the whole can be divided and assigned to different persons. A person may be assigned the right to reproduce the work, another assigned the right to perform the work and some other person assigned the right to produce derivative works from the original work.

 When the intellectual property right of a person is infringed, an action could be brought to restrain a person from further infringing that right and for damages.

The following are the genres of Intellectual property rights covered under the law

  1. Copyright,
  2. Performer’s rights
  3. Trade Marks
  4. Patent and
  5. Industrial Designs

Copyright is an aspect of Intellectual property law which protects literary works, musical works, artistic works, cinematograph films, sound recordings and broadcasts which have been fixed or translated into any definite medium of expression and on which sufficient energy has been expended therefore giving it an original character. Thus, works poems, books, music e.t.c are protected under the copyright regime.

Performer’s right is a genre of Intellectual property rights which protects the performances of a performing artist; it includes the exclusive right to control in relation to his performance the following acts; performing, recording, broadcasting live, reproducing in any material form the performance and an adaptation of the performance. Examples of activities and persons who are covered under this aspect of intellectual property rights include comedians, musicians, dancers, musical performance e.t.c

Trade mark refers to a mark used or proposed to be used in relation to goods for the purpose of indicating, or so as to indicate, a connection in the course of trade between the goods and some person having the right either as proprietor or as registered user to use the mark, whether with or without any indication of the identity of the person. When a trade mark is registered, it confers certain rights on the registered owner of the mark and when a person does acts which are inconsistent with the rights of a registered owner, it amounts to an infringement of trade mark.

Patent is a legal protection granted an invention under the intellectual property law regime.  If the invention is new, results from inventive activity and is capable of industrial application; or if it constitutes an improvement upon a patented invention, it can be patented. Certain rights are conferred on a statutory inventor in respect of his patented invention.

Industrial design is any combination of lines or colours or both, and any three-dimensional form, whether or not associated with colours, if it is intended by the creator to be used as a model or pattern to be multiplied by industrial process and is not intended solely to obtain a technical result. Industrial designs are to be registered. When registered, it confers the registered owner with certain rights.

All of these genres of intellectual property rights will be elaborately discussed in subsequent articles.


[1] Accessed at http://www.wipo.int/about-ip/en/ on 25 August 2017.