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Intellectual Property: Home

A guide to researching intellectual property law for law students, bar examinees, and other researchers.


Copyright: The right to copy; specifically, a property right in an original work of authorship (including literary, musical, dramatic, choreographic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, and architectural works; motion pictures and other audiovisual works; and sound recordings) fixed in any tangible medium of expression, giving the holder the exclusive right to reproduce, adapt, distribute, perform, and display the work.

Intellectual Property: 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.

Infringement: An act that interferes with one of the exclusive rights of a patent, copyright, or trademark owner.

License: A permission, usually revocable, to commit some act that would otherwise be unlawful.

Madrid Protocol: A 1996 international agreement that allows citizens of a Madrid Agreement signatory nation to apply for a single international trademark through the World Intellectual Property Organization instead of registering the trademark in each individual country. An applicant must apply for the trademark's registration in a treaty-member country before applying for international trademark protection.

Patent: The right to exclude others from making, using, marketing, selling, offering for sale, or importing an invention for a specified period, granted by the federal government to the inventor if the device or process is novel, useful, and nonobvious. 

Public Domain: The universe of inventions and creative works that are not protected by intellectual-property rights and are therefore available for anyone to use without charge.

Trademark: A word, phrase, logo, or other sensory symbol used by a manufacturer or seller to distinguish its products or services from those of others.

Trade Secret: A formula, process, device, or other business information that is kept confidential to maintain an advantage over competitors.

Work: An original expression, in fixed or tangible form that may be entitled to common-law or statutory copyright protection.

All definitions from Black’s Law Dictionary, (11Th ed. 2019).


Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.

IP is protected in law by, for example, patents, copyright and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create. By striking the right balance between the interests of innovators and the wider public interest, the IP system aims to foster an environment in which creativity and innovation can flourish.

What is Intellectual Property?,

Subscription Databases

Bloomberg Law: Select the Practice Centers Tab on the home page. On the drop down menu select Intellectual Property. From there you can refine your search by topic or source.

Lexis Advance: Click on Browse Topics located above the search box, and find “Intellectual Property” in the topic section. There you can choose from a number of preselected topics or search for additional topics within the environmental law topic.

Westlaw: Under the Practice Areas tab in the browse box, click on the Intellectual Property link. This will take you to "Practitioner Insights for Intellectual Property" webpage and you can browse the various sources with this topic filtering your results.

Subject Guide

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World Intellectual Property Organization: WIPO is the global forum for intellectual property services, policy, information and cooperation. We are a self-funding agency of the United Nations, with 188 member states.

Intellectual Property Watch: Intellectual Property Watch, a non-profit independent news service, reports on the interests and behind-the-scenes dynamics that influence the design and implementation of international intellectual property policies.

American Intellectual Property Law Association: An association with the goal of expanding the goals of intellectual property through advocacy, public education, member support, and global outreach.

ABA Section of Intellectual Property: the ABA section to advance the development of intellectual property laws, and their fair and just administration. As the forum for rich perspectives and balanced insight on the full spectrum of IP law, the Section serves as the ABA voice