In Anglo-Saxon law, an exclusive right is a de facto, non-tangible prerogative existing in law to perform an action or acquire a benefit and to permit or deny others the right to perform the same action or to acquire the same benefit. A "prerogative" is in effect an exclusive right...
s are recognized—and the corresponding fields of law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...
. Under intellectual property law, owners are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible asset
Intangible assets are defined as identifiable non-monetary assets that cannot be seen, touched or physically measured, which are created through time and/or effort and that are identifiable as a separate asset...
s, such as musical, literary, and artistic works; discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs. Common types of intellectual property rights include copyright
Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time...
A trademark, trade mark, or trade-mark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or...
A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention....
s, industrial design rights and trade secret
A trade secret is a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, or compilation of information which is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable, by which a business can obtain an economic advantage over competitors or customers...
s in some jurisdictions.
Although many of the legal principles governing intellectual property have evolved over centuries, it was not until the 19th century that the term intellectual property began to be used, and not until the late 20th century that it became commonplace in the majority of the world.
When you xerox a page of something the original doesn't disappear, and in the same way information isn't really lost when it's "stolen". — Masamune Shirow, Ghost in the Shell Footnote 02, (1991) ISBN 4-7700-2919-5