How to Analyze and Apply Intellectual Property Law

How to Analyze and Apply Intellectual Property Law

This post focuses on what body of law governs particular intellectual property related legal issues. The outline provided should provide some guidance for researching a given legal issue.

I. Look to the following areas of Intellectual Property (IP) Law to determine which IP Law governs.




Trade Secrets



A. Copyrightable subject matter

B. Infringement

C. Affirmative Defenses


F. Do Take Down Procedures Apply?

G. Remedies?

A. Copyrightable subject matter [§102]:

  • Literary
  • Musical
  • Dramatic
  • Pantomimes
  • Pictorial
  • Motion Pictures
  • Sound Recordings
  • Architectural Works

A. Copyrightable subject matter [§102]:

  1. Literal Elements of Program Code [Apple/Franklin]
  2. Non-Literal Elements of Program Code [Altai] – Abstraction/Filtration/Comparison Functional Elements [Lotus]
  3. Program Output: Screen Displays [Data East/Epyx]
  4. Program Output: User Interface
  5. Derivative Works §103b [Midway/Artic] [Microstar/Formgen]
  6. Other Doctrines: Scenes a Faire Idea/Expression Merger

B. Infringement

  1. Violation of Exclusive Rights
    • Reproduce
    • Prepare derivative/works
    • Distribute
    • Perform
    • Display
    • Perform AV works
  2. Substantial Similarity
  3. Four Types of Infringement:
    (i) Direct Infringement (Religious Technology/Cartoon/Capital Records/Amazon)
    (ii) Contributing Infringement (Napster)
    (iii) Vicarious Infringement (Napster/Perfect 10)
    (iv) Inducement Infringement (Grokster/Perfect 10)

C. Affirmative Defenses

  1. §117: Computers: Archival/Maintenance
  2. Fair Use Factors [Galoob]:
    a. Purpose/Character
    b. Nature of Copyrighted Work
    c. Amount/Substantiality of Portion Used
    d. Effect on Potential Market
  3. Reverse Engineering [Sega]
  4. Copyright Misuse [Lasercomb]
  5. License
  6. Statute of Limitations

D. DMCA §1201a2 [Reimderdes/Chamberlain]

  1. Author
  2. Employee §201
  3. Work Made for Hire §201

F. Do Take Down Procedures Apply? [17 USC 512]

G. Remedies?

III. Patents

A. Statutory Requirements:

  1. Patentable Subject Matter [Bilski/Alice] §101
  2. Useful §101
  3. Novel §102 [Netscape/Lockwood]
  4. Non-obvious §103 [Netscape/Lockwood]
  5. Clear Description §112 [Lizard Tech] [Fonar] [Magnasoft]

B. Procedural: [Konrad] One-Year Bar

C. Defenses: File Wrapper Estoppel

D. International Issues: [Microsoft/ATT]

E. Infringement: [Interactive Gift/British Telecom/BNC]

IV. Trademarks

A. False Advertising: [Cyrix]

B. Unfair Competition: [Sun]

C. False Labeling: [Accolade]

D. False Designation: [Accolade]

E. Infringement:

  1. Polaroid Factors/Likelihood of Confusion [Bucci]
  2. Initial Interest Confusion [Brookfield]
  3. Metatag Infringement [Welles]
  4. Pop-up Advertising [1-800]
  5. Keyword Advertising [Rescuecom/Hearts/Playboy]
  6. Gripe Site [Lamparello]

F. Dilution

  1. Blurring
  2. Tarnishment
  3. Cybersquatting

G. Domain Names

  1. Trademark Use
  2. Anticyber Squatting Consumer Protection Act [Panavision/Bucci/PETA]

H. Exceptions

  1. Functional Feature
  2. Nominative Use [Welles]

V. Trade Secrets

A. Secrecy: [Revendell]

B. Disclosure/Misappropriation: [Data General/Software Artisans]

  1. Existence of Trade Secret, and
  2. Received confidentially and proposes to misuse (or)
  3. Improperly received and proposes to misuse

VI. Licensing

A. Sale or License: [Vernor/Softman]

  • First Sale Doctrine

B. EULA: [Step Saver]

C. Shrink Wrap: [Pro CD]

  • Opportunity to Inspect
  • Opportunity to Return

D. Click Wrap: [Specht]

E. Peremption: [Vault/Pro CD]

F. Open Source License: [Jacobsen]

VII. Jurisdiction

A. Sliding Scale Factors: [Cybersell/Zippo/GTE]

  1. Whether the site derives Income
  2. Whether the Website is Active or Passive

This concludes our discussion of how to analyze the appropriate law for your intellectual property issues.

Feel free to browse our variety of Intellectual Property Law Resources, Posts, and Articles produced for students, lawyers, researchers, and scholars of the law.

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About NOLA Law Corp
NOLA Law Corp's members, advisors, or authors have over thirty years of experience negotiating, drafting, and performing intellectual property based government contracts.
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