Intellectual property is the "ownership of ideas and control over the tangible or virtual representation of those ideas" (FOLDOC, 1997). Many companies have developed intellectual property as part of their normal business operations. This includes manufacturing processes, specialized business operations, and customized software. Intellectual property can be divided into four broad categories: trade secrets, copyrights, trademarks, and patents (Whitman & Mattord, 2009). Companies use intellectual property to optimize their business and represent a form of competitive advantage.
FOLDOC. (1997). Intellectual Property. Retrieved November 2, 2009.
Whitman, M. E. & Mattord, H. J. (2009). Principles of information security (3rd ed.). Boston: Thomson Course Technology.