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Intellectual Property Law: Getting Started

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LibrarySearch is the library catalog of six private colleges and universities in the Twin Cities, including Saint Thomas. Books from other campuses can be requested online and delivered to the St. Thomas library of your choice..

Searching the CLICnet catalog by the following subject keywords or subject headings will help you find relevant intellectual property materials:

Intellectual property.
Intellectual property -- Cases.  
Intellectual property -- Economic aspects -- United States.
Intellectual property -- History.
Intellectual property infringement.
Intellectual property infringement -- United States.
Intellectual property (International law).
Intellectual property (International law) -- Periodicals.
Intellectual property lawyers -- United States.  
Intellectual property -- Minnesota.
Intellectual property -- Moral and ethical aspects.
Intellectual property -- Periodicals.
Intellectual property -- United States.
Intellectual property -- United States -- Forms.
Intellectual property -- United States -- History.
Intellectual property -- United States -- Periodicals.

Intellectual Property Explained on the Web

Intellectual Property Law Research Guide


This research guide offers a starting point for law students and practitioners conducting intellectual property law research.  It provides both primary and secondary resources, including print resources available at the University of St. Thomas Law School Library and electronic resources available on Westlaw, Lexis, and the free Web.  The guide also describes how to find these resources and information on where they are located.

What is Intellectual Property?

intellectual property. (1808) 1. A category of intangible rights protecting commercially valuable products of the human intellect. • The category comprises primarily trademark, copyright, and patent rights, but also includes trade-secret rights, publicity rights, moral rights, and rights against unfair competition.  2. A commercially valuable product of the human intellect, in a concrete or abstract form, such as a copyrightable work, a protectable trademark, a patentable invention, or a trade secret. — Abbr. IP.

“While there is a close relationship between intangible property and the tangible objects in which they are embodied, intellectual property rights are distinct and separate from property rights in tangible goods. For example, when a person posts a letter to someone, the personal property in the ink and parchment is transferred to the recipient.... [T]he sender (as author) retains intellectual property rights in the letter.” Lionel Bently & Brad Sherman, Intellectual Property Law 1–2 (2001).
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, Black's Law Dictionary (9th ed. 2009), intellectual property



edison bulb PATENTS provide rights for up to 20 years for inventions in three broad categories:
Drawing of a machine clog. Utility patents protect useful processes, machines, articles of manufacture, and compositions of matter. Some examples: fiber optics, computer hardware, medications.
Drawing of a light bulb. 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.
Drawing of a plant. 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.
Drawing of Registered Trademark symbol
a capital R inside a circle. 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.
The Copyright Symbol, a Capital C inside
a circle. 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.
Drawing of 3 Molecules attached by small

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.

Table Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office, "What is Intellectual Property?"


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