University of New Hampshire

School of Law

IP Basics

By Professor Emeritus Thomas G. Field, Jr.

The following summarizes the basic discussions for artists, inventors, web page designers and others found in this section. It also links to a few outside resources and provides information about printing copies of these pages for no-cost distribution.

1. Avoiding Patent, Trademark and Copyright Problems

Small business owners who feel that they cannot afford to be concerned with intellectual property should read this and the next discussion. Those who happen to be artists, programmers, web authors and the like should also see items 3-6 listed below; inventors should see items 7 and 8.

2. Trademarks & Business Goodwill

This is information all business owners need if they wish to preserve their hard-won goodwill. It discusses, for example, the important differences between strong and weak marks for products and services, the value of state and federal registrations and the importance of searches (to avoid wasting money).

3. Copyright in Written Work

Written primarily for free-lance writers, this discussion addresses ownership and duration of copyrights, deposit and registration, notice, and remedies that are closely tied to prompt registration. It also discusses licensing and other matters of interest, as well as the need for counsel.

4. Copyright in Visual Arts

This discussion is very similar to Copyright in Written Work but focuses more on the needs of free-lance artists, craftspeople, photographers, sculptors and the like.

5. Copyright for Digital Authors

Written for computer artists and programmers, this also addresses the basics, as well as the registration of multiple works, difference between works that are and are not prepared "for hire," and other matters of interest to entrepreneurs as well as to free-lance programmers and artists.

6. Copyright on the Internet

Focuses on copyright issues most apt to concern those who post to or own email lists or those who have put up web pages. Such matters as the fundamental distinction between works that are and are not "for hire," registration, and issues to consider in transferring copyright interests are treated in other copyright discussions above.  

7. Patenting Your Idea

This discussion addresses the relationship between patents and the market value of inventions, as well as the need to be skeptical of invention promoters and other matters of importance to first-time inventors. It also discusses the need for counsel in making outside submissions and the importance of getting prior art searches.

8. Seeking Cost-Effective Intellectual Property Protection for Inventions

This discussion briefly explores the range of intellectual property options in view of the nature of inventions and their market value, particularly for entrepreneurs. Specific strategies for controlling ever-increasing patent costs in the face of market uncertainty. It does not recommend that inventors prosecute patent applications themselves, lest they get much less than they pay for.

9. Converting Intellectual Assets into Property

This provides an overview of the IP management process, including the key decisions to be made in the effort to make the most of intellectual property.

Other Resources:

Distributing copies and linking

Mounting online copies elsewhere is not permitted, but links are welcome.

Published copies are not available, but those who wish may, however, print and distribute copies of these pages without further permission, on two conditions:

  • No more may be charged than is needed to recover out-of-pocket costs, and
  • The full page, with URL, is distributed.

These materials have often been expanded or revised in response to feedback. We are always glad to learn how they could be even more useful. Please e-mail suggestions to Thomas G. Field, Jr. at tom.field@law.unh.edu.

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