"Intellectual property" (IP) refers to property rights in patents, inventions, trademarks, copyright and industrial designs. IP law has become increasingly complex and comprehensive as technology advances. This guide provides useful starting points for research on United States intellectual property law, including a general section on intellectual property law resources and specialized sections on the core areas of IP law: patents, copyright, and trademarks.
Patents and copyrights are authorized by the United States Constitution, which grants to the U.S. Congress "power...To promote the Progress of Science and the useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 8. One can find intellectual property law in U.S. federal and state law and in international treaties (for example, the "TRIPS Agreement"). Often, U.S. federal and state intellectual property law is a mixture of U.S. common law, and federal and state statutes. Below is an annotated list of select intellectual property law resources.
A. Reference Books & Treatises
Robert C. Dorr and Christopher Munch, Protecting Trade Secrets, Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks, 3d ed. (KF2979 .D67 2000).
This single-volume looseleaf is a useful starting point for researching traditional areas of intellectual property law. It discusses federal and state laws and regulations governing copyrights, patents, trademarks and trade secrets. Citations to key cases and secondary material are included. The publication is kept up-to-date by annual supplements.
Sheldon W. Halpern, Fundamentals of United States Intellectual Property Law: Copyright, Patent, Trademark, 3d ed. (KF2979 .H357 2011).
A one-volume desk reference covering the basics of intellectual property topics, with case and statute references for further reading.
J. Thomas McCarthy et al., McCarthy's Desk Encyclopedia of Intellectual Property, 3d ed. (Reference KF2976.4 .M38 2004).
This volume provides useful definitions for the concepts and phrases which are found in the law of patents, trademarks and copyright. Entries include references to relevant cases, statutes, and treatises for further reading. Appendices include historical statistics on patent applications and trademark registration, as well as biographical timelines for the offices of Commissioner of Patents, Register of Copyright, and Commissioner of Trademarks.
Arthur R. Miller and Michael H. Davis, Intellectual Property: Patents, Trademarks and Copyright in a Nutshell, 4th ed. (Reserve KF2980 .M52 2007).
This book, oriented towards law students, does a good job of summarizing the basics of U.S. copyright, patent and trademark law.
B. Periodicals, Websites & Blogs
Duke Law and Technology Review
The DLTR is an online legal publication that provides thoughtful and in-depth coverage of the latest law and technology issues. The review publishes "iBriefs", short and accessible essays on current intellectual property topics.
Intellectual Property Mall (University of New Hampshire School of Law, Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property)
The web site contains links to Congressional Research Service documents on intellectual property law and select legislative histories, including those for the Patent Act of 1952 and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.
Intellectual Property Watch
This sophisticated blog follows the latest news in all areas intellectual property including international and domestic IP issues. Visit the website to setup RSS feeds and email alerts.
IP Law and Business
From the publishers of Law.com and American Lawyer, this practice-oriented site publishes recent news stories and case summaries focusing on the business of intellectual property protection, and features prominent attorneys who practice in the area.
Managing Intellectual Property (Euromoney, 1991–) (online)
This is a practice-oriented newsletter that is a valuable source of United States and international intellectual property law information.
Patent, Trademark & Copyright Journal (BNA, 1970- )
This weekly publication provides case summaries and news stories related to intellectual property law. It is available online to current members of the Duke Law community through LexisNexis, Westlaw, and the BNA Electronic Library.
- Both Westlaw and LexisNexis contain a number of other intellectual property newsletters and magazines that are oriented towards the practicing attorney. LexisNexis includes Mealey’s Litigation Report. Westlaw includes: Andrews Intellectual Property Litigation Reporter (ANIPLR), and Landslide (LANDSL).
C. Foreign & International Resources
Intellectual property law has become increasingly global in nature. Practitioners in the U.S. must often research international treaties, find foreign patent applications, and compare IP laws of other countries. Many U.S.-focused resources cited in the later sections of this guide also include information about foreign and international issues.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) hosts this searchable database of intellectual property legislation, which provides access to "national laws and treaties on intellectual property of WIPO, WTO and UN Members." In some cases this includes the full text of a country’s intellectual property legislation.
Collection of National Copyright Laws
The collection has not been updated recently, but does provide an excellent overview of of national copyright laws from UNESCO member nations. The laws are official translations, in English, French, or Spanish, provided by member states.
International Encyclopaedia of Laws: Intellectual Property (K1401 .I5825).
This multi-volume loose-leaf set contains sections ("monographs") which outline and describe the IP laws of around 60 countries, each written by an expert in the particular country’s legal framework.
World Intellectual Property Organization Administered Treaties
Intellectual property has an expansive framework of international treaties. This website provides access to the full text of some of the most influential documents, including the Berne Convention, the WIPO Copyright Treaty, and the Patent Cooperation Treaty. It also provides information on recent actions taken by member states and new signatories.
World Intellectual Property Report (BNA, 1997- )
This monthly newsletter provides news and analysis about global developments in IP law. It is available online to current members of the Duke Law community through the BNA Electronic Library.
Westlaw and LexisNexis provide access to foreign and international intellectual property law resources including patent and trademark applications from a number of other countries. These resources are accessible in the same manner as described in each topic area below.
D. Finding Materials in the Duke Libraries Catalog
When searching for intellectual property materials in the Duke Libraries Catalog, use general subject headings as a starting point and then select the appropriate subdivisions for a more precise search. Subject headings in intellectual property may include the following terms:
- Intellectual Property--United States
- Trademarks Law and Legislation
- Trademarks--United States
- Patents--International Law
- Patents--United States
- Copyright--United States
- Copyright Infringement
- License Agreements
A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The right conferred by the patent grant is "the right to exclude others" who wish to make, use, offer for sale, or sell the patented invention in the United States or who might import the invention into the United States. 35 U.S.C. § 271. The requirements for patentability start at 35 U.S.C. § 101. Regulations on patent law commence at Title 37, chapter 1 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
A. Reference Books & Treatises
Irwin M. Aisenberg, Modern Patent Law Precedent: Dictionary of Key Terms and Concepts, 12th ed. (Reference KF3112 .M63 2011).
This is a dictionary of patent terms, organized alphabetically by keywords and phrases. Words and phrases are taken from summaries of leading patent cases with precedential value and from important sections in the U.S. Code.
Donald S. Chisum, Chisum on Patents (also titled Patents: A Treatise on the Law of Patentability, Validity and Infringement) (KF3110 .C4 & online in LexisNexis).
Scholars and practitioners alike frequently cite this essential treatise on patents. The huge fourteen-volume looseleaf set includes a glossary of patent terms, federal circuit guide, forms, statutes and commentary. This set is supplemented four times a year to stay current with the most recent patent law developments.
R. Carl Moy, Moy's Walker on Patents, 4th ed.(KF3114.W32 & online in Westlaw: MOY-PAT database).
This multi-volume treatise revises a previous version entitled Lipscomb's Walker on Patents (3rd ed.) (KF3114 .W3 1984). The Westlaw full-text contains only the current volumes of the 4th edition as they are published; 3rd edition volumes which have not yet been revised by Moy are not available electronically.
Janice M. Mueller, Patent Law, 3d ed. (KF3114.M84 2009).
This title is part of Aspen's "Introduction to Law" series, and provides an accessible overview of patent law concepts and principles. Chapters include discussion of each requirement for patentability. Footnotes cite to relevant cases, statutes and secondary sources, for further research.
B. Patent Grants and Applications
Jeffrey G. Sheldon, How to Write a Patent Application (KF3120 .S48 1992).
This is an excellent loose-leaf on how to write patent applications. It provides an extensive discussion on writing applications for the three types of patents: utility, design, and plant. It also contains a discussion on particular types of patents including electrical patents, biotech patents, and chemical inventions. Select provisions of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure are included in this publication.
David Pressman, Patent It Yourself, 13th ed. (Reference KF3114.6 .P74 2008).
This title, from the popular legal self-help publisher Nolo Press, presents the patent application process in layperson’s terms. Sample forms and a glossary of definitions are included.
United States Patent & Trademark Office Manual of Patent Examining Procedure
This manual is intended for the use of patent examiners, who must decide whether a pending patent application meets all relevant laws and regulations. Each section describes a particular aspect of the application and examination process, and includes citations to related primary legal authority. All prior editions and revisions (back to 1949) are available in PDF through HeinOnline's Manual of Patent Examining Procedure Library.
C. Websites & Blogs
United States Patent and Trademark Office
This official U.S. government web site on patents and trademarks is an excellent resource for researching patent grants, patent applications, and trademark registrations. The site also contains many essential reference sources and manuals geared towards the practitioner. The patent grants database contains images of U.S. patents issued since 1790 and the full text of all patents issued since 1976. A patent applications database contains full text and images of all patent applications since March 15, 2001.
Google Patent Search
This patent search engine allows users to search the full text of issued patents and applications by keyword. Like the USPTO site, Google offers the entire collection of issued patents back to 1790, and selected patent applications. Patents are provided in downloadable PDF format.
Current Patent Legal Literature
A source for current legal literature on patents, it includes scanned images of each article's first page and is maintained by staff at the University of Texas's Tarlton Law Library.
Patently-O: Patent Law Blog
This popular blog, maintained by an Associate Professor Dennis Crouch at The University of Missouri School of Law, posts the latest cases, developments, and reform efforts in patent law.
D. Westlaw & LexisNexis Research on Patents
Both Westlaw and LexisNexis contain full text U.S. patent applications dating back to 1974. Similarly, both Westlaw and LexisNexis possess a number of intellectual property treatises, newsletters and journals.
In Lexis, follow the path Legal > Area of Law (by Topic) > Patent Law to view available databases, which include Chisum on Patents, specialized news sources, and patent applications and grants from the U.S., Japan, Germany, and the U.K.
In the Westlaw Directory, select Topical Practice Areas > IP > Patents & Copyrights to view available materials, which include a superior collection of treatises on patent licensing, such as Eckstrom's Licensing in Foreign and Domestic Operations (ECKLICN) and Licensing of Intellectual Property (LICENSIP).
Federal copyright law is located in Title 17 of the U.S. Code. Copyright law protects "original works of authorship" that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. According to 17 U.S.C. § 102, copyrightable works may include the following subject matter categories:
- Literary works;
- Musical works, including any accompanying words;
- Dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
- Pantomimes and choreographic works;
- Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
- Motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
- Sound recordings; and
- Architectural works.
However, copyright law does not apply to ideas, procedures, processes, systems, methods of operation, concepts, principles, or discoveries. 17 U.S.C. § 102. (Note: patent law may apply in some of these instances.)
Paul Goldstein, Goldstein on Copyright, 3rd ed. (KF2979 .G633).
Paul Goldstein, a professor at Stanford Law School, has written this scholarly treatise for lawyers, judges, legal researchers, and public policy decision-makers. The set is composed of 18 chapters on all aspects of copyright law. There are extensive citations to primary and secondary authorities including cases, statutes, regulations, legislative history and other documents.
Mary LaFrance, Copyright Law in a Nutshell, 2d ed. (Reserve KF2994 .L34 2011).
This short volume, written for use as a study aid, provides a basic introduction to copyright law.
Melville B. Nimmer and David Nimmer, Nimmer on Copyright: A Treatise on the Law of Literary, Musical and Artistic Property and the Protection of Ideas (Reserve KF2994.N56 1978 & online in LexisNexis).
This looseleaf set is the classic scholarly treatise on copyright law. Courts and other scholars cite to it frequently. The treatise is an excellent starting place for researching specific aspects of copyright law. Updated twice a year, this treatise stays current with recent copyright law developments.
William F. Patry, Patry on Copyright (KF2994 .P355 & online in Westlaw: PATRYCOPY database).
A multi-volume examination of copyright law, written by a former law professor who is currently the Senior Copyright Counsel to Google. The print edition features a foreword by Sandra Day O'Connor, who cited to Patry's work while a Supreme Court justice.
B. Websites & Blogs
United States Copyright Office
The official US website for copyright, this website offers copyright basics (including a link to title 17 of the United States Code), copyright registration, a searchable database of copyrights, developments in law and policy, and licensing information. This user-friendly website is a great starting point for general copyright questions.
Creative Commons is the brainchild of prominent intellectual property legal scholar Lawrence Lessig of Harvard Law School. It is a non-profit organization which offers model language for various copyright licenses that are less restrictive than traditional licenses. The licenses are offered free to the public.
Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States
Copyright term can be difficult to ascertain. If you need to determine when a copyright term ends or if a work has fallen into the public domain, this Cornell University website is a useful guide.
Stanford Copyright Renewal Database
This database provides information on the copyright renewal status of books that were published in the United States between the years 1923-1963. This time period is unique in copyright law, since earlier works have generally fallen into the public domain, and works published after 1963 were given an automatic renewal by the 1976 revision of the Copyright Act. The titles covered by the Stanford database required a renewal application to avoid copyright expiration, and the records of these applications were previously difficult to obtain.
C. LexisNexis & Westlaw Research on Copyrights
Westlaw provides currently-available Copyright Office publications and circulars (FIP-CPYINFO), the Copyright Office practices manual (FIP-CPYPRC) and also contains an Arnold & Porter Legislative History for the General Revision of the Copyright Act of 1976 (COPYREV76-LH). The Treatises section of the Intellectual Property subfolder also contains the full text of Patry on Copyright as well as many practice-oriented titles like Copyright Litigation Handbook (COPYLITIG) and Copyright Law: A Practitioner's Guide (PLIREF-CPYT).
LexisNexis’s copyright databases are virtually identical to that of Westlaw, and can be accessed by following the path Legal > Area of Law (by Topic) > Copyright Law. However, LexisNexis also provides access to the CIS Legislative Histories Index, which is used for compiling legislative histories on copyright laws. Lexis also provides the full text of its Matthew Bender treatises, such as Nimmer on Copyright (COPYRT; NIMMER) and Geller and Nimmer's International Copyright Law and Practice (COPYRT; INTCLP).
A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. Trademark law is embodied in both state and federal law. The seminal federal trademark law is called the "Lanham Act." 15 U.S.C. § 1052. Regulations for trademarks and trade names start at Title 37 of the C.F.R.
A. Reference Books & Treatises
Adam L. Brookman, Trademark Law: Protection, Enforcement and Licensing (KF3180 .B68).
Written by a trademark attorney, this highly readable single-volume looseleaf publication is oriented towards attorneys that are new to trademark law. It is a useful reference source for academic research and includes helpful charts, citations to important case law and a table of cases. Fully up-to-date, Trademark Law: Protection, Enforcement and Licensing provides a thorough analysis of differences between federal circuits on aspects of trademark law.
Siegrun D. Kane, Kane on Trademark Law: A Practitioner's Guide (KF3180 .K363 & online in Westlaw: PLIREF-TMLAW database).
From the Practising Law Institute, this loose-leaf guide covers the basics of American trademark law from registration through litigation.
J. Thomas McCarthy, McCarthy on Trademarks and Unfair Competition, 4th ed. (Reserve KF3180.M32 1996 & online in Westlaw).
This treatise is considered the most authoritative source of information about trademark and unfair competition law. Supplemented annually, it covers all aspects of trademark and unfair competition law.
Linda A. Tancs, Understanding Trademark Law: A Beginner's Guide (Reference KF3180 .T36 2009).
Part of Oceana's "Law for the Layperson" series, this volume provides a basic introduction to trademark registration, maintenance, and enforcement.
B. Websites & Blogs
United States Patent and Trademark Office
The USPTO site contains a searchable database of over 3 million pending, registered, and dead trademarks. This database is referred to as the "Trademark Electronic Search System" or "TESS." The site also contains introductory materials and several U.S. federal trademark practice guides. The USPTO also maintains a directory of state trademark laws on the website.
This blog is maintained by John Welch of the law firm Lando & Anastasi, LLP in Cambridge Massachusetts. It is updated on a regular basis with trademark news relating to the rulings of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB).
Current Trademark Legal Literature
A source for current legal literature on trademarks, maintained by staff at the University of Texas Tarlton Law Library. Includes scanned images of each article’s first page.
C. Westlaw & LexisNexis Research on Trademarks
Both Westlaw and LexisNexis gather and organize federal and state trademark cases and trademark registration databases. In Lexis, follow the path Legal > Area of Law - By Topic > Trademarks to view available databases, which include registration information from U.S. and international jurisdictions, Matthew Bender treatises and practice materials, and specialized case law and legislative databases. LexisNexis contains a useful database on domain disputes that includes dispute decisions from WIPO and the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution.
From the Westlaw Directory, select Topical Practice Areas > Intellectual Property > Trademarks and Trade Names to view available databases, which include registration searches for various jurisdictions and the trademark examiner's procedural manual. Westlaw also contains a useful database on domain disputes that includes dispute decisions from international organizations based on the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (URDP-ARB).
J. Thomas McCarthy, The Rights of Publicity and Privacy (KF1262 .M4 & online in Westlaw: RTPUBPRIV database).
This two-volume looseleaf is a useful treatise addressing almost any topic in this area. The author also writes McCarthy’s Desk Encyclopedia of Intellectual Property (Ref. KF2976 .M38).
Roger M. Milgrim, Milgrim on Trade Secrets (KF3197.M55 & online in LexisNexis).
Milgrim, a partner specializing in intellectual property law at a prominent law firm in New York, has authored this essential reading for any scholar or practitioner specializing in trade secrets law. This four-volume set is supplemented to stay up-to-date.
rev. Kelly Leong 11/2011