December 13, 2017
    Glossary of intellectual property terms

    Intellectual property – intangible rights to creative works, inventions, information or processes, or identifying name, marks or symbols. Copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets and patents are forms of intellectual property.

    Copyright – literally the right to use or make copies of a work. Ideas cannot be protected by copyright laws but stories, songs, photographs, movies, sculptures, software programs and other tangible forms of expression may be copyrighted if original. Each created work comes with a bundle of rights that the creator of the work may transfer or license to others.

    Trademark – one or more words or a design or logo indicating the source of goods or services; includes service marks, certification marks, collective membership marks and other source indicators (e.g., slogans, color, sound, scents and product design or configurations, i.e., “trade dress”).

    Registered trademark – a trademark that has been registered with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office or governmental entity in another country. A registration certificate typically is issued upon registration.

    Infringement – using the intellectual property of another without permission.

    License – an agreement allowing one party to use intellectual property owned by the other party; i.e., permission to use intellectual property. A licensing fee or royalty is usually paid for the right to use the intellectual property.

    Royalty – a payment made for the right to use intellectual property belonging to another.

    Fair use – situations where one may use the copyrighted work of another without prior permission. The situations where fair use may be claimed as a defense to copyright infringement are set forth in the U.S. Copyright law. Fair use is also a defense to trademark infringement and uses of another’s trademark in a descriptive manner, in comparative advertising or as part of a parody are examples of trademark fair use.

    Derivative use – creating something new based on an existing work. Sometimes called a “derivative work.”

    Cybersecurity – protecting computers, networks, programs, and electronic works, information and data.

    Patent – the exclusive right granted by a government to an inventor to manufacture, use or sell an invention for a specific number of years.

    Work – short form of “work product”; also refers to something that is copyrighted.

    Copyright, Whiteford, Taylor & Preston LLP, 2013.

    This article is featured in the TRENDS special focus on Intellectual Property Law, sponsored by Whiteford, Taylor & Preston. Other articles: Top-7 social media issues for associationsProtecting an association’s trademarksCopyrights are critical for associationsCyberattacks are equal opportunity threatsPrivacy mattersManaging risk with technology contractorsCEO intellectual property checklist

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