Intellectual Property Terms Glossary

Legalese, the language used in legal matters, is often a labyrinth of confusion, so it helps to know the definitions of key phrases to understand your case.

First, a little background. Why can’t they just speak in plain English? One reason is that the U.S. inherited its legal system from England, and that system developed throughout the centuries and retained Latin wording from the Roman occupation (43-409 a.d.), then French was added after the Norman occupation of 1066 a.d. For example, Latin phrases you may hear are ad hominem (“at the person”–attacking the person’s character rather than his argument), affadavit (“he has sworn”–a formal statement of fact), or de facto (“in fact”–true in practice but not officially endorsed). French phrases include:voir dire (“see them say”–direct questioning of a juror or a witness before trial) or force majeure (“superior force”–an event or occurrence completely out of the hands of the parties, such as an earthquake or natural catastrophe.)

If you are involved in a copyright, trademark or patent matter, there are many more terms you need to know…

Copyright, Patent, Trademark: What’s the Difference?

All three are considered “intellectual property,” and all three are regulated by government agencies.

patent is an exclusive right of an inventor to manufacture, use, or sell an invention for a certain number of years.

Both patents and trademarks are regulated by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

trademark is any name, symbol, figure, letter, or word used by a manufacturer or merchant to designate his or her goods and to distinguish them from those manufactured or sold by others.

A copyright is the exclusive right to make copies, to license, and to otherwise exploit a computer code, literary, musical, or artistic work, whether printed, audio, video, etc.

Copyrights are managed by the U.S. Copyright Office.

For all three, extensive laws and regulations apply. Most people seek expert help in filing trademarks, patents and copyrights. Rogers DVS can help you identify an IP prosecution attorney that can assist you in properly filing to protect your property.

Here are some other important terms in intellectual property disputes:

Damages: In many legal proceedings, you must prove that you have been financially damaged to have a case; it is not enough to prove “the principle of the thing.” Damages are the financial measure of how much a plaintiff has been harmed by the actions of the defendant and how much money will compensate the plaintiff for the harm suffered. “Damages” does not include costs, which are the expenses that are incurred in bringing a lawsuit, nor punitive damages, which are sometimes awarded for certain kinds of wrongful conduct, but both costs and punitive damages play a part in many cases, and the plaintiff can be compensated for them.

Expert Witness: Most witnesses may only testify regarding matters they have personally observed or experienced. They may not state an opinion. To obtain opinions, the parties must have the testimony of expert witnesses. In complex matters, an expert witness can examine documentation and render an opinion. An expert witness is a specialist, highly regarded in his or her field, who has expertise, training and specialized knowledge to render an opinion in the case. 

Infringement: The violation of a right, whether one of contract (breach of contract) or of law (breach of a right protected by a patent, trademark or copyright). 

Valuation: A professional appraisal of the value of an asset. This is especially important in intellectual property cases, because the valuation of a business requires expert knowledge.

Contact us if you need support for any of these issues. We specialize in all intellectual property matters including damages assessment and valuation. We have the capability and flexibility to handle engagements of all sizes, and have been qualified in state and federal courts as expert witnesses on business valuation and damages.