Selon Christian Neukirchen :
> 
> Intellectual property is not covered by copyright.
> 

Incorrect. "Intellectual Property" is a deliberately confusing term used 
mainly by big corporations to cover all of copyright, patents, 
trademarks and trade secrets. So the so-called "intellectual property" 
of Ruby is definitely covered by copyright, and definitely not in the 
public domain.

But please don't use the term "Intellectual Property". Copyrights, 
patents, trademarks and trade secrets appeared independently, or not 
covered by the same laws and don't follow the same rules. Trying to put 
them together under one term is confusing, and leads even to really 
wrong things like calling copyright infringement "intellectual property 
theft", which is not only legally incorrect, but factually wrong.

Here's a short run down of why the term "Intellectual Property" has no 
menaing whatsoever and shouldn't be used:
- copyright is automatic (indicating it is good but not always 
necessary), and applies to the *expression* of an idea, i.e. an actual 
literary work, code source, music sheet, etc... It lasts for the life of 
the copyright holder + a certain amount of years (insanely large, last I 
head it was 70 years or something), and copyright infringement can only 
be found when it is proven that *actual* copying of the work happened 
(if another work looks very close to the copyrighted material, but was 
developed independently, it does *not* infringe). In court, the 
copyright holder has the burden of proving copyright infringement.

- patents need to be applied to, and cover the concept of a technical 
invention, and growingly ideas and concepts in general. They last 17 
years in the US (IIRC). Patent infringement happens as soon as one uses 
a concept covered by a patent, *even* if that person developed it 
without previous knowledge of the patent or of the concept. In other 
words, patents are effectively temporary monopolies on ideas. In court, 
it is the burden of the defendant to prove they didn't commit patent 
infringement.

- trademarks need to be applied to, and cover names and titles of 
products. They protect brand recognition. They last as long as the 
product exists. Trademark infringement happens as soon as someone uses 
that same name to refer to a similar but different product (IIRC). The 
trademark holder is *obliged* to go against any trademark infringement. 
If they fail to do so, the trademark can be ruled invalid. It's a 
"everyone or no one" rule.

- trade secrets are automatic, and exist as soon as (and as long as) one 
keeps something secret in the composition and/or fabrication of a 
product. There is no specific legal protection to trade secrets. Any 
protection has to be done by the trade secret holder, usually by means 
of contracts called Non-Disclosure Agreements. Similarly, there is no 
such thing as "trade secret infringement". If someone bound by a NDA 
spilled the beans out, they can be sued for breaking a contract, but 
that's all. If the cat gets out of the bag in another way, the holder 
has no recourse whatsoever. Of course, in the case of source code for 
instance, that code is still covered by copyright, so it doesn't mean 
the spilled out beans go automatically in the public domain. The trade 
secret itself isn't protected though.

OK, I guess this wasn't as short as I wanted it to be. But when you read 
that, you must understand why a term like "Intellectual Property" is 
needlessly simplificating and confusing. The different forms of this 
so-called "intellectual property" apply to different things, are 
protected in different ways, for different durations, and infringing on 
them means something different for each of them.

So please, don't use that term. You're only confusing yourself, and others.
-- 
Christophe Grandsire.

http://rainbow.conlang.free.fr

You need a straight mind to invent a twisted conlang.