Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Research Support for When You Don't Know How to Find Information

Business Librarian

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Walker Management *Library
Walker Management Library
Owen Graduate School of Management
401 21st. Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203

Minding Your Legal Manners

Intellectual property (IP) is defined as the creation of the mind, such as inventions; ideas;literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images.  IP allows either the creator or an entity, a person or organization, certain exclusive rights to use its own plans, ideas, or other intangible assets without the worry of competition, at least for a specific period of time. These rights can include copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets.  While patent search information is given below, an exhaustive search should be done using a patent attorney.  You can and should however do a preliminary patent search to better understand potential competitions and opportunities.

Another area of research to consider is legal research to see if there are any known issues in the public arena.  See the Databases section for more information.

  • Copyright: The exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.
  • Patents: Grant exclusive rights and privilege to an inventor to make, use or sell an invention for a set number of years. The owner has the right to prevent others from exploiting the invention in the countries for which it has been granted. Different countries have different practices regarding patents.
  • Trademarks:Controls the use of any registered word, name, symbol or design used to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from those of another and to indicate the source of the goods.
  • Trade Secrets:Generally kept as private information by the entity that owns or uses it. An example: the formula to Coca-Cola.

For more information about Copyright, see the video below or click on this site.

Patent searching is a highly complex process.  Patents will describe a technology or product while trying to also disguise it.  For example, a clothing zipper is called a "clothing fastening device."  So while you may do preliminary patent searching, using companies, inventors to keywords that you know, a full and complete patent search requires the use of a patent attorney.  You should however do a patent search to get more familiar with your area of interest.