Welcome to the Intellectual Property Law Home Page, operated as a public service by the Intellectual Property Law Section of the Louisiana State Bar Association. We hope this will help creators of intellectual property in Louisiana and elsewhere to understand and protect their rights.
COPYRIGHT protects the expression of ideas, whether words, music, visual or performing arts, or any other creative endeavor. Copyrights are issued only by the U.S. Copyright Office, which is part of the Library of Congress. They cannot be issued by any state. To be eligible for a copyright a work must be original and must be fixed, which means written, recorded, or depicted in a tangible form. A copyright need not be registered to be valid, but registered copyrights are entitled to greater remedies if infringed. In general, U.S. copyright protection now lasts for seventy years after the author's death (1998 change to prior law, which was fifty years after the author's death), but under certain circumstances the time is shorter. The 1998 extension of the term of copyrights applies retroactively to all copyrights since January 1, 1978 and is automatic.
PATENTS protect inventions, whether of a product or a process. To be eligible for patent protection the invention must be a significant improvement over the prior art. Patents are issued only by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and cannot be issued by any state. To file a patent application, an attorney must be registered as a patent attorney with the Patent and Trademark Office. U.S. patent protection lasts for twenty years.
TRADEMARK protects business, product or service names, slogans, or logos. Trademarks (or servicemarks, if used for services) can be issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office if the mark is eligible, or by state agencies (in Louisiana, the Secretary of State). The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issues registrations for marks that are used across state lines, that uniquely describe the goods and services, and that are not likely to be confused with other marks. There are other requirements as well. U.S. trademark registrations are valid for ten years if properly documented, and can be renewed indefinitely under appropriate conditions. In Louisiana the state requirements are the same, except that the mark need not be used across state lines. Other states have similar provisions.
Other rights include the right of a visual artist to attribution and to prevent destruction of certain types of works; and protection against certain kinds of unfair trade practices and unfair competition. These rights are governed at least in part by state law.
Copyright Clearance Center
The Copyright Website
GGMark (All About Trademarks)
Intellectual Property Creators Website
The Intellectual Property Information Mall
Intellectual Property Magazine
Intellectual Property Web Sites
Kohn on Music Licensing
The Patent and Trademark Depository Library Program
Trademarks and Business Goodwill
Trademark Law Materials, Cornell Law School
Louisiana State Government
Louisiana State Bar Association
Selected Louisiana Resources on the Internet
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