IP or IPR? You decide

Do you call it IP or IPR?

IP Draughts takes the view that patents, copyright, trade marks, etc are examples of property. The rights of an owner of such property, such as the right to sue infringers, are property rights. Contractual definitions of IP are usually just that – definitions of IP and not of IPR. For example, this is a general definition taken from a licence agreement:

“Intellectual Property” means any and all patents, utility models, registered designs, unregistered design rights, trade marks, copyright, database rights, rights in respect of confidential information, extension of the terms of any such rights (including supplementary protection certificates), and applications for and the right to apply for any of the foregoing.

However, we have seen definitions that (confusingly, in our view) define IP as inventions, discoveries, works, and the like, and IPR as the legal instruments protecting those developments, eg patents, copyright and so on.

Leaving aside technical definitions in contracts, either term (IP or IPR) could be right, depending on the context. But which do you prefer to use when speaking generally – IP or IPR?

To help you decide, here are some links to places where each term is used.

Wikipedia (that much-maligned legal research tool) discusses Intellectual Property, and a search for “intellectual property rights” takes you back to that page.

This WIPO discussion of types of IP starts off by referring to intellectual property but then moves on to a discussion of intellectual property rights, mainly when considering copyright and similar “rights”.

The name of the EU-funded IPR Helpdesk indicates their preference. Similarly Annex II to the European Commission’s FP7 Grant Agreement prefers Intellectual Property Rights (see heading to Part C).

We are interested to know what our readers think. Please vote in our poll and leave your comments below .


Filed under Intellectual Property

5 responses to “IP or IPR? You decide

  1. Happy New Year. My U.S. based colleagues in our IP group don’t like “IPR” because, to them, it’s short for “inter partes review” (a U.S. trial proceeding to review the patentability of claims in a patent). So to avoid confusion, especially in international agreements, I tend to use “IP” for the generic concepts of intellectual property and “IP Rights” for the particular rights in such IP that are being addressed by the agreement in question.

  2. Reblogged this on IP Draughts and commented:

    In the 10th anniversary year of this blog, IP Draughts thought it might be interesting to revisit some evergreen articles from the blog’s early days. Here’s one that is just as relevant today. It predates IP Draughts finding his “voice” in the third person singular.

  3. In-house Guy

    Is it a regional thing? Maybe IPR in Europe, but IP in the US and Asia…?

  4. aquariumdrinker

    I voted in the poll, then regretted it. Now I’m feeling a little better about it and I suspect that everything is going to be OK.

    In an agreement that spends more than a little time on allocation of IP rights or risks, I usually define both. (I tend to use “Intellectual Property” and “IP Rights” since I have a tic about not using strings as defined terms that are contained within other defined terms, but who cares really.) So I guess the answer is “whichever is technically correct in context”, which is what I voted.

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