This guide is intended to serve as a starting point for research on topics concerning intellectual property rights and responsibilities. Broadly defined:
The Copyright & IP Policy endorsed by Whitman College, and the supporting documents from these webpages have been developed to assist the Whitman community in learning about their intellectual property rights, copyright law, and making informed, careful and situation-sensitive decisions about the lawful and fair use of works created by others. While every effort has been made to present clear and accurate information, the use of this website should not substitute for legal advice.
Questions about this Guide should be directed to Lee Keene, Library Director, email@example.com or (509) 522-8499.
U.S. Copyright Office definition:
"Copyright refers to the author's (creators of all sorts, such as writers, photographs, artists, film producers, composers, and programmers) exclusive right to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute copies, and publicly perform and display their works. These rights may be transferred or assigned in whole or in part in writing by the author. Unless otherwise agreed in writing, work created by an employee is usually owned by the employer."
According to Section 102 of Title 17, protected works include:
In other words, any form of creative expression that has a fixed or tangible form.
Works NOT copyrightable include:
For more information, see U.S. Copyright Office, Circular 1 [pdf]
Copyright protection is automatic when an original work is fixed in a tangible form. Registration is NOT required to confer copyright protection.
According to the U.S. Copyright Office (Circular 1), registration of a copyright has the following benefits:
Purposes of use under which using a copyrighted work may be considered fair (Section 107). Examples include criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, scholarship and research. For detailed information, see: Fair Use and Fair Use in the Classroom.
United States Patent & Trademark Office definition:
"A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United State Patent and Trademark Office ... What is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention."
The subject matter of a patent MUST be:
2. Novel, &
General Information Concerning Patents from the USPTO:
"PATENTABILITY: The patent statute sets forth three basic requirements or conditions for determining the patentability of a product of process -- utility, novelty, and nonobviousness. An applicant must be an original inventor (i.e., not have derived the subject matters from some other source) and must apply within one year of certain events that constitute statutory bars (e.g., public use.) The Patent and Trademark Office determines the patentability of each claim during examination. After a patent issues, it is presumed to be valid. However, a party charged with infringement may contest the validity of any claim by showing noncompliance with the conditions of patentability."
1 Chisum on Patents GL1 (2019)
From the USPTO: "granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new or useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or compositions of matters, or any new useful improvement thereof."
From the USPTO: "granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture."
From the USPTO: "granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant."
A trademark identifies the source of goods. USPTO definition:
"A trademark includes any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination used, or intended to be used, in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from goods manufactured or sold by others, and to indicate the source of the goods. In short, a trademark is a brand name."
United States Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Portal
A trademark can be a word, symbol, phrase, or other type of distinguishing mark. The mark must be sufficiently distinctive (i.e., capable of identifying the source of a particular product.)
There are 4 levels of distinctiveness (listed with their meaning and level of protection):
Grounds for USPTO to refuse a trademark include:
For more information, see USPTO's Grounds for Refusal of a Mark
Trademark registration provides:
Adapted, revised and used with permission. With thanks to:
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