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Intellectual Property Resources

This guide provides a selection of U.S. intellectual property resources including federal copyright, trademark, and patent laws and state trade secret laws.

Introduction to Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property is an umbrella term referring to the rights granted authors, innovators, and commercial actors for their intellectual creations.  Intellectual property rights are generally granted to incentivize and protect unique creations of the mind.  Intellectual property includes copyright law, patent law, trademark law, and the law of trade secrets (although other related fields are often included as well).

Copyright law grants a set of exclusive rights to the author or creator of an original work.  Examples of copyrightable works include: books, poems, cartoons, paintings, sculptures, and computer games.

Patent law grants a set of exclusive rights to the inventor of a novel object in exchange for the public disclosure of the object.  Popular examples of patentable works include the windshield wiper, combustion engine, or pharmaceuticals.

Trademark law protects distinctive marks that are used as product identifiers by individuals or businesses.  Trademarks are generally names, words, phrases, logos, symbols, images, designs, or a combination thereof.  An example of a trademark is the University of Richmond crest.

Trade Secret laws protect commercially advantageous pieces of information, provided the information is not readily known or generally ascertainable and the information is kept secret by reasonable measures.  If, despite efforts to keep the information secret, the secret gets out, the originator of the secret may have a cause of action by virtue of trade secret laws.  An example of a trade secret might be the recipe for McDonald's secret sauce.

 

Intellectual Property Resources, Print & Electronic

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