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Copyright 2006
Cornell University.
All rights reserved.


Introduction and objectives

This module is a basic introduction and does not replace the advice of a lawyer. We strongly suggest you consult a lawyer about intellectual property issues that concern you.

We come into contact with copyrights, trademarks, patents, and even trade secrets every day.

  • From brand names such as Patagonia and Liz Claiborne protected by trademarks
  • to surface print rights afforded by copyrights
  • to patents protecting a process to make a technical fabric,
Textile surface prints are protected
by copyright laws.

intellectual property laws provide the legal means to protect ideas for individuals and businesses.

For the entrepreneur who is marketing an innovation, it's essential to understand the rights and obligations provided by intellectual property (IP) law. Not only can knowledge of IP law protect your rights to a design, but it can also protect you from violating a law and being sued.

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Compare the purposes, registration process, and length of protection of copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets and decide which is right for your entrepreneurial venture.
  2. Describe the limitations of IP law for textile surface designs (2D) and apparel designs (3D) in the U.S. and how these affect the way you develop and market apparel and sewn products.
  3. Compare the advantages and disadvantages of licensing the right to use your business trademark, copyrighted material, or patent rather than producing and selling a product yourself.
  4. Conduct a preliminary online trademark or patent search.




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