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Intellectual Property

Statutory Law

Federal IP law is codified and located in the U.S. Code, and includes specific sections that cover patents, copyrights, and trademarks.

  • Title 35 of the U.S. Code contains federal law for patents. Included among the 37 chapters of this title are law concerning the makeup and powers of the USPTO, requirements for patentability of an invention, and technical requirements of a patent application.
  • Title 17 of the U.S. Code governs copyrights. Its 13 chapters lay out copyright requirements, as well as copyright ownership and transfer law, Copyright Office responsibilities, and industry-specific copyright issues.
  • Trademarks are primarily governed by Title 15, Chapter 22 of the U.S. Code, which is the codified version of the Lanham Act of 1946. The Lanham Act sets forth requirements for valid trademarks and for trademark infringement. Trademarks are also governed by portions of Title 35 that involve the USPTO.

Print versions of the U.S. Code are located in the law library, and electronic versions can be accessed via Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg, and Cornell Legal Information Institute

Administrative Law

Patents, trademarks, and copyrights are granted/registered through two federal organizations: the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the United States Copyright Office. These organizations also help to maintain IP policy.

United States Patent and Trademark Office - The USPTO grants patents and registers trademarks. After a decision is made on whether to grant/register or deny a trademark or patent, parties can appeal the decision through either the Patent Trial and Appeal Board or the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Appeals of PTAB and TTAB decisions are heard by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The USPTO website contains applications, PTAB and TTAB decisions, and USPTO procedures, among other resources. 

United States Copyright Office - The U.S. Copyright Office registers copyrights as a department of the Library of Congress. The Copyright Office website contains information on Copyright Office operating procedures, policy decisions, and registered copyrights.

Case Law

IP litigation occurs almost exclusively in federal court, and administrative courts are sometimes used for appeals and other issues. 

Patent and Trademark infringement cases are heard in Federal District Courts, and appeals are heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, regardless of the District in which the case was originally decided, and then finally by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Case law can be found on Westlaw, Lexis, Bloomberg Law, Google Scholar, FDsys and Cornell Legal Information Institute. When searching on Westlaw, Lexis, or Bloomberg Law, results can be filtered to include IP cases only.

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