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I have seen this abbreviation multiple times in relation with computer games.

Take this sentence for example "It's interesting because people look back at our history and our franchises and see that we have some really iconic IPs." (source). I've seen it in interviews with people from Telltale Games too.

So, any ideas what does it mean?

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IP in this context stands for Intellectual Property.

Intellectual property is something unique that has been physically created. An idea alone is not intellectual property. However, a produced game does count.

The IP is anything that is subject to copyright, patents and trademarks. Developers/publishers get some types of protection automatically. Others require registering.

The following gives some examples of items that are considered IP:

  • The plot to a video game
  • Characters, including names and appearances
  • The overall look and feel
  • Sound and video
  • The name of the game
  • A game's engine

Often, IP and franchise/brand are interchangeable. For example, Nintendo may refer to Mario as IP, a franchise or a brand. I believe that is the case with the quote in the question.

Other sources:

US Policies on IP
UK Government Article
Wiki Article
Gamasutra Article

As a side note, IP is also used in gaming when referring to someone's IP address or the Internet Protocol.

  • This is a good answer, but the wording for the distinction between ideas and produced things may be unintentionally misleading. If an idea is drafted in some any tangible way, it is an intellectual property. It does not necessarily need to be fully produced or published. If I drew a character for a game in a notepad right now, it would become my intellectual property assuming it doesn't violate existing copyrights. – Hagelt18 Mar 7 '16 at 14:55
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    @Hagelt18 - I think that is covered in the 2nd sentence Intellectual property is something unique that has been physically created. – user101016 Mar 7 '16 at 15:28
  • The second sentence in combination with the following two sentences imply that it must be a product and not a concept. However, an unproduced concept can be intellectual property as long as it is drafted. I'm not saying that's necessarily what you meant, I'm just saying it can be misread that way. – Hagelt18 Mar 7 '16 at 15:44
  • Intellectual property does not have to be physical. Pure software or even software design can fall under the IP umbrella as they are patentable. – l I Mar 8 '16 at 4:42
  • @z' - IP must be physical. A design must be on paper, for example. A patent is applied to a documented design, not an idea in someone's head. – user101016 Mar 8 '16 at 9:47
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It stands for Intellectual Property, and are things like trademarks, copyright, patents and industrial design.

Intellectual property (IP) is a term referring to creations of the intellect for which a monopoly is assigned to designated owners by law. Some common types of intellectual property rights (IPR) are trademarks, copyright, patents, industrial design rights, and in some jurisdictions trade secrets: all these cover music, literature, and other artistic works; discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs.

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    I'd like to add that typically in a video game context, the term is frequently a synonym with "franchise". – DaniloV Mar 7 '16 at 9:28
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    Good addition. For example, Microsoft has the franchise (or IP) Halo and Nintendo the whole Mario franchise. – Mathias711 Mar 7 '16 at 9:29
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    Poor answer backed by a good source. Mickey Mouse is part of Disney's IP and not knowledge. IP is anything that you crated intellectually and have taken measures to prove it is yours and protected it. – rom016 Mar 7 '16 at 13:33
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    This is wrong...Intellectual property is not knowledge. Knowledge is a term to describe facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education. Intellectual Property consists of creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. – Hagelt18 Mar 7 '16 at 14:28
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    @above. You are both completely right. I adjusted the answer. Feel free to change it if necessary. – Mathias711 Mar 7 '16 at 14:35

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