Practically all businesses have to deal with intellectual property (IP) rights. IP is also the legal science and legal practice dealing with 'products of the human mind', such as copyright, trademarks and trade names. Entrepreneurs, though, are not always aware of the value of IP, the possibilities to protect it and the consequences of any infringement on these rights. IP is an element of general competition law. That focuses on keeping the process of competition between suppliers of products and services clean and open. A range of laws protect technical inventions, designs, texts, databases etc. They standardise the competition by - aside from exceptions - granting owners of IP exclusive, often all-encompassing, rights to their creations. That this touches on the competition between providers goes without saying. Back-end software of a website, for instance, may not simply be copied by someone else. Or what about someone imitating or plagiarising your logo? Infringements can end up in court proceedings demanding heavy damages and punitive payments.
Intellectual property rights constitute a series of legal fields, which besides those mentioned above are part of the expertise of Van Eeckhoutte: database law (the exclusive right of extraction of the producer of a database, whether digital or not), chip law (the exclusive right to the topography or lay-out of a computer chip); neighbouring rights (the exclusive right of exploitation for record companies and broadcasting organisations), patent law and design/registered model rights (the exclusive right to any new embodiment of a drawing or model with a specific function).