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Intellectual Property: Overview

Other Intellectual Property LibGuides

The Law Library has several Intellectual Property LibGuides.

Research Guides

If you are not familiar with the topic, you may find that a research guide or tutorial is a useful tool to assist you with your research.  We hope that you will find this guide helpful. 

You should review the date the research guide was last updated.  Using a research guides updated in the last year will help ensure you are relying on current information.  However, if you are conducting historical research, an older guide may be helpful.

Some of the most popular guides include:

1) Columbia University, Arthur W. Diamond Law Library, International Intellectual Property Research Guide, (Revised 06/2008). An excellent guide providing an overview of International Intellectual Property law, foreign law associated with intellectual property, multi-lateral intellectual property treaties, and other free resources on international intellectual property.

2) Duke University Law School, Goodson Law Library, Intellectual Property Research Guide (Revised 12/2017). This guide provides useful starting points for research on United States intellectual property law, including a general section on intellectual property law resources and specialized sections on the core areas of IP law: patents, copyright, and trademarks.

3) University of Chicago, D'Angelo Law Library, Intellectual Property Research Guide (Last Updated: Nov 4, 2011).  This research guide covers the main resources for U.S. federal intellectual property law. It includes individual tabs dedicated to the three primary areas of intellectual property law: copyright, trademarks, and patents 

What is Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property: It is imagination made real. It is the ownership of dream, an idea, an improvement, an emotion that we can touch, see, hear, and feel. It is an asset just like your home, your car, or your bank account.

Just like other kinds of property, intellectual property needs to be protected from unauthorized use. There are four ways to protect different types of intellectual property:

  1. PATENTS provide rights for up to 20 years for inventions in three broad categories:
      a. Utility patents protect useful processes, machines, articles of manufacture, and compositions of matter. Some examples: fiber optics, computer hardware, medications.
     b. Design patents guard the unauthorized use of new, original, and ornamental designs for articles of manufacture. The look of an athletic shoe, a bicycle helmet, the Star Wars characters are all protected by design patents.
     c. Plant patents are the way we protect invented or discovered, asexually reproduced plant varieties. Hybrid tea roses, Silver Queen corn, Better Boy tomatoes are all types of plant patents.
  2. TRADEMARKS protect words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that distinguish goods and services. Trademarks, unlike patents, can be renewed forever as long as they are being used in business. The roar of the MGM lion, the pink of the Owens-Corning insulation, and the shape of a Coca-Cola bottle are familiar trademarks.
  3. COPYRIGHTS protect works of authorship, such as writings, music, and works of art that have been tangibly expressed. The Library of Congress registers copyrights which last the life of the author plus 50 years. Gone With The Wind (the book and the film), Beatles recordings, and video games are all works that are copyrighted.

4. TRADE SECRETS are information that companies keep secret to give them an advantage over their competitors. The formula for Coca-Cola is the most famous trade secret.

 Information from USPTO

Itellectual Property Overview

Subject Guide

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