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Intellectual Property Research Guide: Trademark

Overview

 

Trademark law protects the names, logos, and other signifiers that identify products and services and associate them with a particular business.It also protects "trade dress," such as distinctive shapes (like a Coca-Cola bottle), packaging (McDonald's Happy Meal), or distinctive decor (Hard Rock Cafe). We recommend that you begin your research with secondary sources, such as treatises, legal encyclopedias, and law journal articles.

In-depth Secondary Sources
Primary Sources


Statutory law: The Lanham Act, Title 15 of the United States Code, was enacted to provide for a national system of trademark registration and protection. The official version of Title 15  is on the U.S. Government Publishing Office Website. Lexis and Westlaw maintain updated, annotated versions of the code with features for accessing related primary law, legislative history, secondary sources, and more.

Proposed Legislation:

  • Congress.gov is the Library of Congress free legislative research service, and the website allows searches of all legislation from 1973 to the current legislative session.
  • GovTrack.us maintains records of federal legislation and legislators going back to 1972. The platform supports searches, tracking, and alerts.
  • Lexis and Westlaw also provide bill searching and tracking features. On Westlaw, the database is Federal Proposed and Enacted Legislation, and on Lexis, it is Bill Text.
     

Regulations:

Trademark regulations are codified in the Code of Federal Regulations Title 37, Parts 2-7. This version of the regs, from the Cornell LII website, is user-friendly, but not the official version. Access the official version on the U.S. Government Publishing Office website. Lexis or Westlaw maintain up-to-date, annotated versions of the CFR with features for linking to relevant regulatory history, code sections, case law, administrative law, and more.

Case Law

  • The best way to find relevant case law is to start with a secondary source. Alternatively, if you have a citation to a statute, use the annotations or Shepardize (Lexis) or KeyCite (Westlaw) to find relevant cases.
  • If you do not have a statute or known case or code section, searching in specific headnotes (Lexis) and Key Numbers (Westlaw) can be highly efficient.
  • Keyword searching is often least efficient because it depends on matching the terms used in the decisions you are looking for. We recommend contacting a UC Hastings librarian or the Westlaw and Lexis reference attorneys for assistance in building your searches.
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