Terms to Know

Stay up to date your T2 terminology 

This is your go-to resource for key technology transfer terms

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All A C D E F I L N P R S T U


Amendment (patents)

Any writing made or proposed as an improvement of some principal writing. During prosecution of the patent application, amendments to the drawings, specification and claims may be made provided they add no new matter and have not been "restricted" from the current application as claiming more than one distinct invention.


The act of doing or taking a thing before its proper time. In patent law, a person is said to have anticipated when he patents a contrivance already known within the limits of the country granting the patent.

Assignment (copyright)

When a copyright is transferred from the owner to another person or party. Transfer of ownership in a copyright must generally be done in writing. However, there is an exception when the transfer occurs "by operation of law" which may include transfers occurring as a result of a merger.

Attorney-Client Privilege

This term applies to the right an individual has for the information he gives his attorney to be kept confidential. After a patent is issued, it becomes public information, unless pending.


Cease and Desist letter

Statement of an aggrieved party's demand that the offending party immediately stop any further violation of an aggrieved party's rights.

Certification mark

Any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used, or intended to be used, in commerce with the owner’s permission by someone other than its owner, to certify regional or other geographic origin, material, mode of manufacture, quality, accuracy, or other characteristics of someone's goods or services, or that the work or labor on the goods or services was performed by members of a union or other organization.


Particularly points out and distinctly claims the subject matter which is regarded as the invention and defines the scope of the protection of the patent.

Clearance Search

Seeks to determine whether a proposed product infringes any in-force patents.

Collective Mark

A trademark or service mark owned by an organization (such as an association), used by its members to identify themselves with a level of quality or accuracy, geographical origin, or other characteristics set by the organization.

Common law trademarks

The rights that arise from the actual use of a trademark without federal registration. Generally, whoever first uses a trademark in commerce has the ultimate right to use that trademark in that way.

Compilations (Copyright)

A work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data are selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship.

Composition of Matter

An instrument formed by the intermixture of two or more ingredients, and possessing properties which belong to none of these ingredients in their separate state.


Formation in the mind of the inventor, of a definite and permanent idea of the complete and operative invention, as it is hereafter to be applied in practice.

Continuation in Part (CIP) application

An application filed during the lifetime of an earlier nonprovisional application, repeating some substantial portion or all of the earlier nonprovisional application and adding matter not disclosed in the said earlier nonprovisional application.


A form of protection provided to the authors of "original works of authorship" including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished.


Deceptive Trademarks

Trademarks with a suggestive component, ingredient, or object that would mislead consumers. Deceptive Trademarks cannot be registered.

Design Patent

A form of legal protection granted to the ornamental design of a functional item.

Divisional application

A type of patent application which contains matter from a previously filed application (the so-called parent application).

Double Patenting

The granting of two patents for a single invention, to the same proprietor and in the same country or countries. Double patents are subject to rejection by the USPTO.



Requirement according to which a patent application must disclose a claimed invention in sufficient detail that would enable one with ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention without an undue amount of experimentation.

Expiration of Patent

The termination of the enforceability period of a patent at the end of the patent term or for failure to pay a maintenance fee.


Fair Use (copyright)

A doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders for various purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

Formal drawings

Drawings suitable for publication in a patent that can be filed any time after the filing of the patent application including any time within three months of the Notice of Allowance (NOA), which is a document from the USPTO indicating that a patent application has been allowed.


Information Disclosure Statement

A statement that discloses the prior art that is most relevant to the claimed invention.

Intellectual Property

Refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. Intellectual Property is protected in law by, for example, patents, copyright and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create.

Interstate commerce

Any work involving or related to the movement of persons or things (including intangibles, such as information) across state lines or from foreign countries.


The process of contriving or producing something not previously known or existing by the exercise of independent investigation and experiment.



A permission, accorded by a competent authority, conferring the right to do some act which without such authorization would be illegal, or would be a trespass or a tort. A licensor may grant a license under intellectual property laws to authorize a use (such as copying software or using a (patented) invention) to a licensee, sparing the licensee from a claim of infringement brought by the licensor.


New Matter

Subject matter not included in the original specification, claims, or drawings of a filed patent application. No amendment may introduce new matter into the disclosure of an application.

Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA)

A contract in which the parties promise to protect the confidentiality of secret information that is disclosed during a relationship between the parties. Non-Disclosure Agreements are also referred to as Confidential Disclosure Agreements (CDA).



A legal document which provides protection to the ideas of any individual. Usually issued by the Patent Office of a country, the patent is granted to any firm or individual. Usually, patents constitute four different classes: Machine (a device or apparatus created by a person for the performance of a specific task), Process (a process created by an individual), Manufacture (any fabricated or manufactured product), or the Composition of Matter (any chemical mixture or compound created by a person).

Patent application

An application submitted to the patent office by the inventor of any item, machinery or process, which allows him/ her or the company to gain sole rights to their invention.

Patent Cooperation Treaty

An international treaty that facilitates foreign patent filings for residents of member countries when obtaining patents in other member countries. By filing one international patent application under the PCT, applicants can simultaneously seek protection for an invention in 148 countries throughout the world.

Patent Infringement

An unauthorized making, using, offering for sale or selling any patented invention within the United States or United States Territories, or importing into the United States any patented invention during the term of the patent.

Patent Marking

Refers to the notices, including numbers, that appear on products to notify the public and competitors that products are patented.

Patent Pending

A designation whose basic purpose is to ward off any competitors who might be looking to breach on the copyrights, a 'patent pending' item is one whose patent application is being reviewed.

Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)

An administrative law body of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) which decides issues of patentability.

Provisional Patent Application

A legal document filed in the USPTO that establishes an early filing date, but does not mature into an issued patent unless the applicant files a regular non-provisional patent application within one year.


Registered Patent Attorney

An attorney who has the specialized qualifications necessary for representing clients in obtaining patents and acting in all matters and procedures relating to intellectual property law and practice. In the U.S., they must be graduates of a four year accredited college, must have a college degree in a technical discipline, must be graduates of a three year accredited law school and have a Juris Doctor degree, must be admitted to practice before the highest court in their state, and must pass a rigorous exam conducted by the Patent and Trademark Office that tests the applicant on numerous technical and legal issues.


Service Mark

A trademark used in the United States and several other countries to identify a service rather than a product. When a service mark is federally registered, the standard registration symbol ® or "Registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office" or "Reg U.S. Pat & TM Off" (the same symbol is used to mark registered trademarks). Before it is registered, it is common practice (with some legal standing) to use the service mark symbol ℠ (a superscript SM).

Small Entity

An entity qualifies as a small business concern, and so qualifies for small entity status, if its number of employees, including affiliates, does not exceed 500 persons. The small entity status allows small businesses, independent inventors, and nonprofit organizations to file a patent application and maintain an issued patent for a reduced fee—a 50% reduction.

Statute of Limitations

Time frame set by legislation where affected parties need to take action to enforce rights or seek redress after injury or damages. Although there is no statute of limitations in patent infringement actions, the Patent Act specifies a time limit on monetary relief for patent infringement claims: damages are available only for infringement that occurs within the six years prior to the filing of the complaint or counterclaim for patent infringement.


Trade Secret

Information, maintained confidential, and having commercial and sometimes competitive value. Examples include undisclosed inventions, technical and marketing data, and financial information.


A word, name, symbol or device that is used in trade with goods to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods of others.

Trademark Registration Symbol

An encircled "R" or ®. Only registered trademarks may use this symbol.



Abbreviation for the United States Patent and Trademark Office.