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Under federal law, the holder of a copyright owns a particular expression of an idea, but not the idea itself. This ownership right applies to creative activities such as literature, music, drama, and software.

Fair use doctrine

Permits limited use of copyrighted material without permission of the author.


The right to the exclusive use of an invention for 20 years.

Service mark

A type of trademark used to identify services, not products.

Trade secret

A formula, device, process, method, or compilation of information that, when used in business, gives the owner an advantage over competitors who do not know it.


Any combination of words and symbols that a business uses to identify its products or services and that federal law will protect.

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