A handy checklist of key Intellectual Property (“IP”) terms and concepts. Click here to download the IP Glossary.

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AIPLA

Abbreviation for American Intellectual Property Law Association, a US-based membership organisation for Intellectual Property practitioners and advisers.

Applicant

The person named as owner in an application to file an intellectual property right (IPR) .

Application

A written submission made to a Registry claiming ownership of an IPR.

Assignment

A legal transfer of IP (or other) rights from one owner to another.

CDP Act

Abbreviation for the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988, the current UK copyright law governing the rights of creators of written, musical and artistic works.

CDR

Abbreviation for the Community Design Regulation, a unified system for registered design rights throughout the European Union.

CIPA

Abbreviation for the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, the professional and examining body for patent attorneys in the UK.

CITMA

Abbreviation for the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys, the professional and examining body for trade mark attorneys in the UK.

CJEU

Abbreviation for the Court of Justice of the European Union, a Luxembourg-based court which enforces EU law (including intellectual property law) in disputes between Member states and individuals.

Claims

The part of a formal patent document that defines in technical language the precise scope of the invention so as to make clear what the patent is and is not intended to cover.

Copyright

The exclusive legal rights of the creator of written, musical and artistic works, sometimes signaled by use of the symbol - ©

CRD/RCD

Abbreviation for Community Registered Design (also known as Registered Community Design), a single registered design right which can be applied for via EUIPO and is effective throughout the European Union.

CTM

Abbreviation for Community Trade Mark (CTM), the previous name for the European Union Trade Mark (EUTM).

Description

Also known as the specification - that part of a formal patent document that provides a detailed disclosure of the claimed invention.

Designation

The formal selection, made during prosecution, of the countries in which the holder of an IPR wants his IP Rights to be protected.

Design Right

A legal right owned by the inventor or creator of a new and distinctive configuration, pattern or shape in the external appearance of an object or graphic. The owner has the right to sue others for infringement of his Design Right. A Design Right may be either unregistered or registered.

Distinctiveness

In order to be registrable, a trade mark must satisfy the test of distinctiveness. Broadly this means that it must be different from other marks, be more than merely descriptive of the relevant goods or services and identify the source or provider of those goods or services.

Divisional Application

A patent application that is divided or separated out from a previously filed “parent” application, usually in circumstances where the earlier application described more than one invention. The divisional application will usually take the same filing date and priority as its parent.

DPMA

Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt. Abbreviation for the German Patent and Trade Mark Office the Registry responsible for the grant of IPR in Germany.

Drawings

That part of a patent document which illustrates the invention, or certain features of the invention, in graphical form.

EP

Abbreviation for European Patent, a patent granted by the European Patent Office (EPO)  which once granted becomes a bundle of individual national rights in the countries designated by the patentee.

EPC

Abbreviation for the European Patent Convention, a system for filing European Patents (EPs) at the European Patent Office (EPO) which, once granted centrally can be made effective nationally in any of the 40 participating European nations. (Note that the participating nations extend beyond the EU member States).

EPO

Abbreviation for the European Patent Office, the Registry responsible for the examination and grant of European Patents.

EUIPO

Abbreviation for European Union Intellectual Property Office, (formally known as OHIM) is the Registry responsible for the grant of European Union Trade Marks (formerly Community Trade Marks) and of Community Registered Designs throughout the EU.

EUTM

Abbreviation for European Union Trade Mark, a single registered trade mark which can be applied for via EUIPO and is effective throughout the European Union.

Examination

The phase of prosecution of an IPR application in which the Registry satisfies itself that the application meets all the requirements for the IP Right in question. This may include detailed investigation and correspondence with the applicant or his advisers. For example in patent cases examination may involve discussion of novelty and inventive step and in trade mark cases examination may involve the consideration of distinctiveness.

Filing

The act of lodging an application for an IPR with a Registry.

Grant

The issue or approval of an IPR by a Registry.

Infringement

The unlawful violation or breach of IPRs belonging to another.

INTA

Abbreviation for the International Trademark Association, a US-based membership organisation for trademark owners and advisers.

Invalidity

One of the grounds on which a patent may be challenged after grant. A claim for invalidity is based on the premise that the patent should never have been granted by the Registry in the first place, for example because it lacked novelty at the time.

Inventive Step

In most international patent systems, in order for a patent to be granted the applicant has to demonstrate inventive step or non-obviousness. This means that the Registry must be satisfied that the invention is more than just an obvious extension or iteration of what already exists.

IPC

Abbreviation for International Patent Classification, a system used in more than 100 countries to classify patents according to the main technical or scientific field to which they relate.

IPEC

Abbreviation for the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (previously the Patents County Court or PCC), a specialist UK court providing a cost effective alternative to High Court action in certain types of IP disputes.

IPR

Abbreviation for Intellectual Property Right, an exclusive right of an inventor or creator to stop others from copying or exploiting their invention or creation. Examples of IPRs include patents, design rights, trade marks and copyright.

IP Analytics

Also known as IP Landscaping, the use of specialist search software to interrogate extensive international IP databases and identify technology, market and competitor trends.

IP Auditing

A formal review of the nature, extent and quality of IPRs owned by a business and of the procedures for capturing, protecting and exploiting IPRs within the organisation. Audits may be used for asset and risk management purposes or to support monetary valuation of IPR portfolios.

JPO

Abbreviation for Japan Patent Office, the Registry responsible for the administration and grant of IPRs in Japan.

Lapse

An IPR is said to lapse if the renewal or maintenance fees are not paid by the owner. Once lapsed an IPR cannot be enforced against third parties.

License

Also known as License Agreement, a formal agreement permitting someone to use the Intellectual Property rights belonging to another, usually in exchange for a fee or royalty payment.

Madrid Agreement/Protocol

An international agreement and procedure allowing for the protection of a trade mark in a large number of countries by obtaining a single international registration which can be made effective across those States that are signatories to the Agreement.

Maintenance Fees

An alternative term used in certain countries for renewal fees (payable after grant of an IPR) and used in the EPO system to denote fees due annually prior to the grant of the patent.

Novelty

A patent can only be granted by a Registry for an invention which is novel. An invention lacks novelty if it was known to the public before the priority date of the patent application.

OD

Abbreviation for Opposition Division, the division or panel of the European Patent Office (EPO)  which deals with Oppositions.

Opposition

A formal process enabling the rights of an applicant to be challenged by a third party before a Registry. Examples include the UKIPO Trade Mark oppositions procedure (allowing challenges to UK trade marks within 2 months of publication) and the EPO Oppositions procedure (allowing challenges to European Patents for up to 9 months after grant).

Paris Convention

The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, an agreement among a large number of countries allowing for IPR applications filed in one participating country to be extended to other participating countries during a priority period as if they had been filed in those other countries on the original filing date.

Patent

A legal right granted to an organisation or individual by a Registry in respect of an invention that shows novelty and inventive step. The owner of the patent has the right to sue others for infringement of his patent.

Patent Agent/Patent Attorney

Specialist practitioners with science/engineering backgrounds who are qualified by examination to advise on all matters pertaining to the prosecution, use and exploitation of patents. The terms “agent” and “attorney” can be used interchangeably in the UK but have slightly different meanings in the US and elsewhere.

Patent Application

A formal written request to a Registry for the grant of a patent in respect of a specific invention.

Patentee

The owner of a patent; the individual or organisation to whom the patent has been granted by a Registry.

Patent Litigation

A formal court procedure in which the owner of a patent takes action against a third party for infringement and/or in which a third party sues the owner of the patent claiming invalidity.

Patent Pending

A patent that has been filed at a Registry, but has not yet been granted.

PCC

Abbreviation for Patents County Court, (the former name of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court).

PCT

Abbreviation for the Patent Cooperation Treaty, an international agreement which assists applicants seeking patent protection in numerous countries for their creations although does not provide the grant.

Prior Art

All of the information in a technical field that has been made publicly available prior to a patent filing or priority date. Prior Art is often used to challenge the novelty of a patent application.

Priority

A certain period of time following the filing of an IPR application in which the applicant can decide whether or not to file the application in one or more other countries.

Priority Date

The last date on which an applicant can decide to make an application in one country claiming priority from an IPR filed in another.

Prosecution

The stage or phase of an IPR application after filing and before grant in which the applicant or his professional advisers may liaise with the Registry on a range of issues.

Publication

The making public of an IPR application by a Registry. IPR applications are confidential for a certain period of time but are then made available to the general public and to other Registries around the world.

Recordal

The formal process of recording a change of ownership of an IPR at a Registry (for example following a change of name or address or an assignment of a patent or trade mark).

Registered Design Right

A legal right granted by a Registry to the inventor or creator of a new and distinctive configuration, pattern or shape in the external appearance of an object or graphic. The owner has the right to sue others for infringement of his Registered Design Right.

Registered Trade Mark

A legal right granted by a Registry to the owner of a logo, sign, style symbol or mark which distinguishes the goods or services of the owner from those of anyone else. The owner has the right to sue others for infringement of his Registered Trade Mark. The fact of a trade mark having been registered is often signaled by use of the symbol ®

Registry

An official government office charged with the administration and grant of IPRs within a particular jurisdiction. Examples include the EPO, the EUIPO, the USPTO and the UKIPO.

Renewals

(also sometimes known as Annuities) Once an IPR has been granted by a Registry it is necessary to pay renewal fees at annual or other intervals to maintain the right. Failure to pay the renewal fees will cause the IPR to lapse.

Royalty Payment

A fee payable under a License Agreement for use of IPRs belonging to another.

SIPO

Abbreviation for the State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China, the Registry responsible for the administration and grant of IPRs in China.

SPC

Abbreviation for Supplementary Protection Certificate, certificate available in certain countries to extend the protection conferred by a patent for medical or plant protection products for a period of up to five years beyond the normal term of the patent.

Specification/Spec

That part of a formal patent document that provides a detailed disclosure of the claimed invention.

Trade Mark Agent

A name used in some countries for trade mark attorney.

Trade Mark Attorneys

Specialist practitioners qualified by examination to advise on all matters pertaining to the registration, use and exploitation of trade marks.

Trade Mark

Any logo, sign, style, symbol, mark or other feature that distinguishes the goods or services of the owner from those of anyone else. The symbol ™ is sometimes used to indicate the existence of a trade mark. A trade mark can be either registered or unregistered.

UDR

Abbreviation for Unregistered Design Right, a design right arising automatically by operation of law without the need for registration.

UKIPO

Abbreviation for the UK Intellectual Property Office, the body responsible for facilitating the granting of IPR in the UK.

UPC

Abbreviation for the Unified Patent Court, a specialist patent court due to be established across all participating sates of the European Union which will hear disputes about infringement and validity of European patents.

UP

Abbreviation for Unitary Patent, is a new type of single patent due to be introduced across all participating states of the European Union.

USPTO

Abbreviation for the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a body responsible for issuing and monitoring patents and trade mark registrations throughout the USA.

UM

Abbreviation for Utility Model, a form of IPR available in some countries which is similar to a patent although usually of shorter duration and having less stringent registration requirements.

WIPO

Abbreviation for World Intellectual Property Office, a specialised body of the United Nations facilitating IP services, policy, filing and protection of Intellectual Property Rights throughout the world.

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