fourth Edition


by James Boyle, Jennifer Jenkins

This book is an introduction to intellectual property law, the set of private legal rights that allows individuals and corporations to control intangible creations and marks—from logos to novels to drug formulae—and the exceptions and limitations that define those rights. It focuses on the three main forms of US federal intellectual property—trademark, copyright and patent—but many of the ideas discussed here apply far beyond those legal areas and far beyond the law of the United States.

The book is intended to be a textbook for the basic Intellectual Property class, but because it is an open coursebook, which can be freely edited and customized, it is also suitable for an undergraduate class, or for a business, library studies, communications or other graduate school class. Each chapter contains cases and secondary readings and a set of problems or role-playing exercises involving the material. The problems range from a video of the Napster oral argument to counseling clients about search engines and trademarks, applying the First Amendment to digital rights management and copyright or commenting on the Supreme Court's rulings on gene patents.


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1. The Theories Behind Intellectual Property 
2. Intellectual Property & the Constitution
2.1. Limitations on Congressional Power: Originality
2.2. Limitations on Congressional Power: Purpose and Novelty/Non-Obviousness
2.3. Limitations on Congressional Power: Fixation & the Interaction between Clauses
2.4. Limitations on Congressional Power: Limited Times, Term Extension and the First Amendment
3. Intellectual Property & the First Amendment
4. Trademark: Introduction
5. Subject Matter: Requirements for Trademark Protection
5.1. Use as a Mark in Commerce
5.2. Use as a Mark: Source Identification Function
5.2.1. Actions of the Source
5.2.2. Nature of the Mark: Distinctiveness and Functionality
6. Grounds for Refusing Registration
6.1. 1052(a)
6.1.1. Disparaging marks
6.1.2. Immoral or scandalous marks
6.1.3. Marks that falsely suggest a connection to persons
6.1.4. Deceptive marks
6.2. 1052(b)
6.3. 1052(c)
6.4. 1052(d)
6.5. 1052(e)
6.5.1. § 1052(e) “deceptively misdescriptive” v. § 1052(a) “deceptive”
6.5.2. Primarily geographically descriptive, or geographically deceptively misdescriptive
6.5.3. Primarily merely a surname
6.6. 1052(f)
7. Trademark Infringement
7.1. Use in Commerce
7.2. Likelihood of Confusion
7.3. Contributory Infringement
8. Defenses to Trademark Infringement: Fair & Nominative Use
9. False Advertising, Dilution & ‘Cyberpiracy’
9.1. False Advertising: False or Misleading Statements of Fact
9.2. Dilution
9.2.1. The Requirement that the Mark be Famous
9.2.2. The Requirement of “Commercial Speech”; Dilution by Tarnishment
9.2.3. Dilution by Blurring
9.3. “Cybersquatting” and “Cyberpiracy”
10. Introduction to Copyright: Theory & History
11. Copyrightable Subject Matter
11.1. Originality: Independent Creation and a Modicum of Creativity
11.2. The Idea-Expression Distinction
11.3. Merger of Idea and Expression
11.4. Useful Articles
11.5. Methods of Operation: Introduction to Computer Software
11.6. Fixation (Copyright Meets Software, continued)
12. Copyright’s “Reach”: Infringement
12.1. The Idea/Expression Distinction in Infringement Analysis
12.2. Copyright Meets Computer Software: The Infringement Edition
12.3. Copyright in Characters
12.4. A Two-Part Test for Copyright Infringement
12.5. “De minimis” Copying
13. Limitations on Exclusive Rights: Fair Use
13.1. Fair Use, Technology and Contributory Infringement
13.2. Unpublished works, “Scoops” and Political Speech
13.3. Transformative Use, Parody, Commentary and Burdens of Proof Revisited
13.4. Fair Use Meets Technology
13.5. A Fair Use Case-Study: Multiple Copies for Classroom Use
14. Secondary Liability for Copyright Infringement & Safe Harbors in the Digital Age
14.1. The Stakes of Contributory Infringement
14.2. Contributory and Vicarious Infringement
14.3. Inducement Liability
14.4. Safe Harbors: Section 512, Direct Infringement and Secondary Liability
15. Anti-Circumvention: A New Statutory Scheme
15.1. Anti-Circumvention, Fair Use, and the First Amendment
15.2. Anti-Circumvention, Competition, and Consumer Choice
15.3. The Interaction between Copyright, Contracts, and the DMCA
16. Copyright & State Misappropriation Law: Preemption
16.1. Subject Matter and General Scope: Extra Elements
16.2. Preemption, Misappropriation & the Fact/Expression Dichotomy
17. Patents: Hopes, Fears, History & Doctrine
17.1. Hopes and Fears
17.2. History
17.3. Patent Basics
17.3.1. The America Invents Act
17.3.2. The PTO Application Process
17.3.3. Reading a Sample Patent
17.3.4. International Patent Law
17.3.5. Design Patents and Infringement
18. Patentable Subject Matter
18.1. Laws of Nature and Natural Phenomena
18.2. Abstract Ideas, Business Methods and Computer Programs
19. Requirements for Patent Protection: Utility
19.1. ‘Research Intermediaries’ and Hunting Licenses
19.2. Genetic Engineering & Utility
19.3. Utility in the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
20. Requirements for Patent Protection: Novelty
20.1. Novelty: Basics
20.2. Novelty: Novel to whom?
20.3. Novelty: Anticipation of Every Element
20.4. Novelty: Inherency
20.5. Statutory Bar: Public Use
20.6. Statutory Bar: The Experimental Use Exception
21. Non-Obviousness
21.1. A Four Step Test for Obviousness
21.2. The Scope of Prior Art
21.3. Burden of Proof and “Obvious to Try”
21.4. ‘These Are Not the PHOSITA’s you’ve been looking for. . . .’
22. Trade Secrecy & Preemption
23. A Creative Commons? Summary and Conclusion

James Boyle is William Neal Reynolds Professor of Law at Duke Law School and the former Chairman of the Board of Creative Commons. His other books include The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind, Shamans, Software and Spleens: Law and the Construction of the Information Society and two educational graphic novels, Bound By Law and Theft: A History of Music (with Jennifer Jenkins).

Jennifer Jenkins is Clinical Professor of Law (Teaching) at Duke Law School and the Director of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain. Her recent articles include In Ambiguous Battle: The Promise (and Pathos) of Public Domain Day and Last Sale? Libraries' Rights in the Digital Age. She is the co-author, with James Boyle, of Bound By Law and Theft! A History of Music.

Copyright ©2018 James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Sharealike 3.0 Unported license. /by-nc-sa/3.0/. This is an unedited version of the original.


The author(s) of this volume are not affiliated in any manner with