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Business Law Notes: Intellectual Property Law

Products of minds; result from intellectual, creative processes

Trademark (TM)

A distinctive mark, motto, device or emblem that a manufacturer stamps, prints, or affixes to product, so that they can be distinguished.

Service Mark (SM)

Similar to a TM but is used to distinguish the services of one person or company from those of another.

Certification Mark

Used by 1+ persons, other than the owner, to certify the region, materials, mode of manufacture, quality, or accuracy of the goods or services.

Collective Mark

When members of cooperative, association use a certification mark, or other organization it is called a collective mark. (For ex, the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval”) They appear at the end of movies to indicate the various associations & organizations that participated in making of the movies.

Trade Names

TMs apply to products, trade names to business. May be protected as trademarks or service marks if used as such (e.g., Apple Computer, Inc. uses the trade name Apple). It is directly related to a business & to its goodwill.


A grant from the fed government that conveys & secures to an inventor the exclusive right to make, use, & sell an invention for a period of 17 years. Lesser periods are given for designs, as opposed to inventions.


Intangible right granted by statute to the author or originator of certain literary or artistic productions. Works crafted after 1/1/78 are automatically given statutory copyright protection for the life of author plus 50yrs. Publishing houses get 75 years from date of publication or 100 years from date of creation, which ever is first.

Trade Secrets

Info that cannot be patented, copyrighted or trademarked are protected against appropriation by a competitor (i.e., customer lists, plans, R&D, pricing, marketing technology, production technology, & anything that makes an individual company unique & that would have value to a competitor). Definition: formula, pattern, device, or compilation of info, which is used to obtain advantage.

Ideas & their expression: unlike copyright & trademark protection, trade secrets extend to both ideas & to their expression (no registration or filing requirements, this may be well suited for software.)

Rule: one who discloses or uses another’s trade secret, without a privilege to do so, is liable to the other if