intellectual property

Abandoned Application


Refers to the abandonment of a patent or trademark application.  An application is removed from the docket of pending applications at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office when the applicant (either directly or through his attorney or...

Abandoned Property

 Abandoned property: an overview

Personal property left by an owner who intentionally relinquishes all rights to its control.  Real property may not be abandoned. See Adverse Possession.

At common law, a person who finds...

Abandonment (of Trademark)


Abandonment of a trademark occurs when the owner of the trademark deliberately ceases to use the trademark for three or more years, with no intention of using the trademark again in the future.  When a trademark is abandoned, the...

Abercrombie Classification


In the law of branding, a characterization scheme of trade designations in increasing order of distinctiveness: generic, descriptive, suggestive, and arbitrary or fanciful.

See alsoIntellectual propertyTrademark



1) In terms of copyright, access refers to the ability of a potential infringer to see or obtain the copyrighted material. Access is important in determining whether a potential infringer has in fact illicitly copied the copyrighted material...


In patent law, anticipation refers to the prior invention or disclosure of the claimed invention by another, or the inventor's own disclosure of the claimed invention by publication, sale, or offer to sell prior to the inventor's application for a...

Attorney of Record


1) A lawyer who appears in court or receives pleadings and other formal documents on a party's behalf. Also known as counsel of record.

2) In patent and trademark law, a lawyer or agent named in a power of attorney filed by a...


In copyright law, an author is a person who creates an original expressive work. The author is also the owner of the copyright unless the author assigns ownership to another in a written agreement. Examples of authors include artists, writers,...


A 'bailment' is a non-ownership transfer of possession. Under English Common Law, the right to possess a thing is separate and distinct from owning the thing. In some jurisdictions, an owner of an object can steal his own property, a curious result of...

Berne Convention

The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works is an international agreement governing copyright, signed in Berne, Switzerland on September 9, 1886. The Berne Convention aims to help nationals of its signing countries obtain...

Cease and Desist Letter

A cease-and-desist-letter is a cautionary letter sent to an alleged wrongdoer describing the alleged misconduct and demanding that the alleged misconduct be stopped. A cease-and-desist letter provides notice that legal action may and will be taken if...

Certification Mark


A mark used in commerce by a person other than its owner to identify goods or services as being of a particular type. 


Certification marks are protected and regulated as a type of trademark under the Lanham Act, but serve a...


1.  A set of operative facts creating a right enforceable in court.  Though generally synonymous with cause of action, "claim" is slightly broader because it captures not only wrongs with standard names (e.g., battery), but...


A patent claim is a formal description of the novel features of an invention and of the scope of protection created by the patent.

Clean Room

Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law DictionaryA method of developing proprietary material in which an isolated development team is monitored. The purpose is to provide evidence that similarities to others works or products are due to legitimate...

Collective Mark


A type of trademark used by members of a collective, association, or other organization to indicate membership and/or to distinguish the goods and services of members from those of non-members.


A collective mark is a type of...

Collective Membership Mark

A type of trademark used to identify membership in a particular collective group or organization, cooperative or association.  Collective membership marks are unique in that the are used solely for the purpose of identifying the person displaying...

Collective Work


A work, such as an issue of a magazine, an anthology or an encyclopedia, in which a number of contributions, constituting separate and independent works in themselves, are assembled into a collective whole. See 17 U.S.C. §101. This is...


In 15 U.S.C. §1127:

 1) The exchanging, buying, or selling of things having economic value between two or more entities, for example goods, services, and money.  Commerce is often done on a large scale, typically between individuals,...

Commercial Exploitation

Term that includes all activities used to benefit commercially from one's property.  Examples include making property, selling it, offering it for sale, or licensing its appropriation or use. 

See, e.g., Patent.


Under the Copyright Act, a compilation is a "work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that are selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of...

Compulsory License

A compulsory license is a statutorily-created license that allows the use of copyrighted materials without the explicit permission of the copyright holder.  In exchange, a royalty is paid to the copyright holder.

Computer Maintenance Competition Assurance Act

Title III of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Computer Maintenance Competition Assurance Act, broadened Section 117 of the Copyright Act to allow third-party maintenance organizations to used software licensed to a computer’s owner or lessee...

Confusingly Similar

In trademark law, "confusingly similar" refers to when a symbol or logo is so exceedingly similar to an existing trademark that the public might mistake the symbol with the existing trademark. It is a test to see whether a potential trademark conflicts...

Contributory Infringement


A form of secondary liability for direct infringement of a patent, copyright, or trademark.  A means by which a person may be held liable for infringement even though he or she did not actually engage in infringing activities.




Information that a web server (i.e. a website) sends to a web browser. The browser stores the information in a text file, and re-sends the information to the server each time the browser accesses the server. The main purpose of a cookie is to...


In copyright law, a copy is the physical form in which the creative expression is fixed. Under the Copyright Act, "'Copies' are material object, other than phonorecords, in which a work is fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from...



The exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something.

Overview - U.S. Copyright ActGeneral

The U.S. Copyright Act, (codified at 17 U.S.C. §§ 101 - 810), is federal legislation...

Copyright and Patent Power

Under Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, Congress may "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries".

See copyright, patent...

Copyright Notice

A symbol or phrase on a work that informs others that the work is protected by copyright.  Although works produced in the US today are not required to have a mark displayed to be protected by copyright, many authors and producers include a...

Copyright Office

The Copyright office is the official U.S. government body that maintains records of copyright registration in the United States.  Although registration is not required for the copyright to be in effect, but U.S. authors must register their works...

Copyright Owner

A copyright owner is the entity that owns the exclusive rights comprised within a copyright. See 17 U.S.C. §101.

Copyright Registration

Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law DictionaryThe status of a work that meets the requirements of the U.S. Copyright Office. Registration is not required for copyright protection but it is required before a court action may be brought to stop...

Counsel of Record


See attorney of record.

Court of Customs and Patent Appeals

Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law DictionaryThe court that previously handled appeals from determinations by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Appeals are now heard by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC).

Definition provided...


Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law DictionaryThe sharing of patent rights through licensing agreements so that businesses can use each other's technology and not fear infringement lawsuits.

Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law...