(1) (Internet Protocol) Refers to a network that uses the TCP/IP communications protocol, which may be a wide area network (WAN) such as the public Internet, or a private, local network (LAN). The phrase "it runs over IP" means "data are transmitted across a TCP/IP network." "IP network" and "TCP/IP network" are synonymous terms; however, "TCP" and "IP" are different layers that are referenced independently when discussing protocol details (see Internet Protocol).|
IP may also refer to just the numeric addresses assigned to every client, server and router in an IP network. For example, the phrase "what's the IP?" means "what is the numeric IP address currently assigned to the device?" See IP address.
(2) (Intellectual Property) A broad category of materials that are legally recognized as proprietary assets of an organization. In the computer field, hardware circuits, software and text are copyrightable. Depending on the situation, the algorithms used within hardware circuits and software may also be patentable, and brand names can be trademarked as long as they are not generic descriptions of the products. However, IP covers more than just copyrights, patents and trademarks; for example, customer databases, mailing lists, trade secrets and other business information are also included.