Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; symbols, names and images.

The rights attached to these IP assets (IP rights) not only play an important role in promoting innovation and protecting investment but also help the IP rights owners earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create. Therefore, without IP protection, businesses and individuals would not reap the full benefits of their inventions or creations.

As IP rights concern intellectual creations, the cultural and creative industries (CCIs) are one of the most IP-intensive sectors and IP protection and IP management must be at the core of CCIs activities.
This means that managing and protecting the IP assets need to become an integral element of doing business for the creatives.

There are four main IP rights which CCIs frequently make use of are:

Copyright and the neighbouring rights protect the original works of the creators, performers and producers, and include exclusive publication, distribution, and usage rights. In the EU, there is no mandatory registration procedure for copyright protection, and it does not expire until 70 years after the owner’s death.

Trade marks: A trade mark protects signs, which distinguish the goods and services of one entity from those of another. Trade marks can be words, logos, devices or other distinctive features, or a combination of these. In Europe, trade marks are registered for 10 years with the possibility to renew the registration unlimitedly, each time for 10 years.

Designs: Designs protect the appearance of a product such as its shape, patterns and colours as long as the design is new and has an individual character (original). The protection period for designs is five years which can be extended four times each time for five year-terms, completing the maximum protection period to 25 years.

Patents: Patents protect technical inventions which are new, have an inventive step and are industrially applicable. In the EU Member states, patents provide their owners with a maximum of 20 years of protection.