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The Everyday Dictionary of Law

The Everyday Dictionary of Law provides legal vocabulary currently in use in common law jurisdictions such as most notably, in the United States. The dictionary is compiled specifically for commercial and intellectual property law practitioners, which provides simple definitions and meanings in American English, for legal terms (including Latin terms) used in formal correspondence, court proceedings, and motion practice as well as common language words that are frequently used in the same. It is a simple reference guide for attorneys, paralegals as well as casual readers who need to check the meaning of a particular legal term in due course of their work.


The information provided by Carthaginian Ventures Private Limited d/b/a Copperpod IP (“we,” “us” or “our”) on this site is for general informational purposes only. All information on the website is provided in good faith, however, we make no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability, or completeness of any information on the site. Under no circumstance shall we have any liability to you for any loss or damage of any kind incurred as a result of the use of the site or reliance on any information provided on the site. Your use and  and reliance on any information on the site constitutes your understanding, acceptance and agreement of these terms and conditions.


Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol.


Domain Naming Service.


Designated Office.
The national Office or intergovernmental organization of or acting for the Contracting State is designated by the applicant under Chapter I of the Patent Cooperation Treaty.


Department of Commerce.


This is the EPO's bibliographic database of patents from around the world, including abstracts, citations and the simple DOCDB patent family. It covers over 90 countries globally, but does not contain full text or images.


Digital Rights Management - This is the application of technological control that restricts access to digitally produced content, in order, for example, to protect copyright.


Document Type Definition - a format specification file that accompanies documents prepared according to SGML (standard generalized markup language), including XML (extensible markup language). It lists the tags or structural labeling for each distinctive section of the text, images, or other embedded file object (examples: title, author, etc.) so that the document can be easily shared and worked within different operating environments.


The Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 is a federal law that allows the owner of a trade secret to sue in federal court if their secret has been stolen or misappropriated.

Data Reference Model

Data Reference Model - also known as a "data and information reference model" - describes the data and information that support program and line operations. Helps describe the types of interactions that occur between the Federal Government and others. The purpose of a DRM is to establish a commonly understood classification for Federal data that will lead to the identification of duplicative data resources.

Database of Biodiversity-related Access and Benefit-sharing Agreements

The WIPO Database of Biodiversity-related Access and Benefit-sharing Agreements is an electronic online collection of “guide contractual practices, guidelines, and model intellectual property clauses for contractual agreements on access to genetic resources and benefit sharing, taking into account the specific nature and needs of different stakeholders, different genetic resources, and different transfers within different sectors of genetic resource policy.” As a capacity building tool, it aims to provide information resources for those seeking assistance on current practices relating to intellectual property, access and benefit-sharing and genetic resources and, as an empirical basis, it aims to contribute to the development by WIPO of intellectual property guidelines on access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing.


A dead or abandoned status for a trademark application means that a specific application is no longer under prosecution within the USPTO, and would not be used as a bar against your filing. It does not necessarily mean that there are no other marks that the trademark examining attorney would cite. It is also possible to revive an abandoned application (for example, if the USPTO declared the application abandoned for the failure of the applicant to respond to an Office action, but the applicant later proved that a response was sent and the USPTO simply failed to match it with the file on time, then the case could be revived). Also, regardless of the status of an application within the USPTO, the owner may still claim common law rights, i.e, the mark may still be in use in commerce.

Debitor cessus

/dɛbɪtə sɛsʌs/ /dɛbɪtor sɛsʌs/

Third-Party Obligor

Deceased Inventor

A named inventor who has died before the filing of a patent application or during the prosecution of a patent application.


A document in which an applicant for patent declares, under penalty of fine or imprisonment, or both (18 U.S.C. §1001), that (1) he or she is the original or sole inventor, (2) shall state of what country he or she is a citizen, (3) that he or she has reviewed and understands the contents of the specification and claims which the declaration refers to, and (4) acknowledges the duty to disclose information that is material to patentability as defined by 37 CFR Section 1.56. An oath or declaration must be filed in each nonprovisional patent application.

Defensive Patent

Refers to the intention of the patent being filed. In this case, the intention of a defensive patent is solely to protect against litigation, rather than for commercialization. They are used to prevent competitors from patenting the same technology and then using those patents against the operating organization.

Defensive Protection

Defensive protection refers to a set of strategies to ensure that third parties do not gain illegitimate or unfounded intellectual property rights over traditional cultural expressions, traditional knowledge subject matter and related genetic resources. Defensive protection of traditional knowledge includes measures to preempt or invalidate patents that illegitimately claim pre-existing traditional knowledge as inventions.

Defensive Publication

An IP strategy that involves publicly publishing details of an innovation. Advocated by the USPTO, this strategy means that others cannot obtain a patent on the disclosed invention as it is now considered prior art.


Form PCT/IPEA/401, filed with an International Preliminary Examining Authority, demanding that an international application shall be the subject of an international preliminary examination.

Dependent Claim

Patents consist of independent and dependent claims. Independent claims should define all the essential components of an invention as a standalone or a series of standalone statements that describe the invention in its broadest scope. A dependent claim, on the other hand, cannot stand alone and shall include every limitation of the claim form which it depends.They relate to a specific referenced independent or another dependent claim and will limit the scope of that original claim. Dependent claims are used to provide additional protection. For example, if an independent claim is invalidated, then the independent claim in association with a dependent claim may not be.

Deposit Account

An account that is established in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), upon payment of a fee for establishing such an account, for the convenience in paying any fees due, in ordering services offered by the USPTO, copies of records, etc.


Article 2(e) of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity (2010) provides the following definition: “a naturally occurring biochemical compound resulting from the genetic expression or metabolism of biological or genetic resources, even if it does not contain functional units of heredity.”

Derivative Work

In copyright law, the term “derivative works” refers to the translations, adaptations, arrangements, and similar alterations of preexisting works which are protected under Article 2(3) of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1971) as such without prejudice to the copyright in the preexisting works. Sometimes, the term is used with a broader meaning, extending to the compilations/collections of works protected under Article 2(5) of the Convention, (as well as under Article 10.2 of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, 1994 (the TRIPS Agreement), and Article 5 of the WIPO Copyright Treaty, 1996 (WCT)). A work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications, which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”.

Derogatory Action

The adjective “derogatory” refers to prejudice to the honor or reputation in line with Article 6bis of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1971). The term “action” refers to something other than an actual change or interference with the work itself. It is an action “in relation to” the work. The term “derogatory action” was added to the Convention at the Brussels Revision to cover uses of the work that were prejudicial to the author. It refers to situations where communication of work is done in such a manner as to cause the author harm.


A full explanation of the invention. It will often include background information on the invention, how it is made, and its intended uses.

Descriptive Mark

A trademark or service mark that conveys the idea of the qualities, characteristics, or effects of a product or service and that is protectable when it creates an association in the mind of the public between the mark and the producer or product or service. A mark is considered merely descriptive if it describes an ingredient, quality, characteristic, function, feature, purpose or use of the specified goods or services. If a mark is merely descriptive or deceptively misdescriptive of the goods or services to which it relates, the mark will be refused registration on Principal Register under S2(e)(1) of the Trademark Act, 15 1052(e)(1).
Examples of descriptive marks include - MEDICAL GUIDE for website services featuring medical guides, DENIM for jeans, and SPICY SAUCE for salsa.

Design Code Search Manual

Lists the numerical codes for searching designs in the USPTO's trademark database.

Design Patent

May be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.

Design Patent

This is a US right that covers the configuration or shape of an article, or ‘ornamental features.’ Solid lines in the drawings are the claimed features of the shape. Broken lines in the drawings show what the rest of the object might look like. Similar to, but not to be confused with, design rights.

Design Right

A type of Intellectual Property Protection that protects any visual aspects of a product. Primarily used in the EU and EU member countries Not to be confused with the US design patents.


An indication made by the applicant, in the Request for an International Application filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, as to the Contracting States in which protection for an invention is desired.


Defense in depth - multiple layers of security to provide added protection to IT resources.

Digital Transmission

A transmission in whole or in part in a digital or another non-analog format.


A patentee, whether of the whole or any sectional interest therein, may, on payment of the fee required by law, make disclaimer (give up all or part of the owner's rights to enforce claims) of any complete claim, stating therein the extent of their interest in such patent. Such disclaimers are required to be in writing and recorded in the USPTO, and are considered as part of the original patent to the extent of the interest possessed by the disclaimant and by those claiming under him. Any patentee or applicant may disclaim or dedicate to the public the entire term, or any terminal part of the term (from a certain point in time through the projected end of the entire term), of the patent, granted or to be granted. There are two types of disclaimers: a statutory disclaimer and a terminal disclaimer.

Disclosed Traditional Knowledge

“Disclosed traditional knowledge” refers to “[traditional knowledge] which is accessible to persons beyond the indigenous or local community which is regarded as the ‘holder’ of the [traditional knowledge]. Such [traditional knowledge] might be widely accessible to the public and might be accessed through physical documentation, the internet and other kinds of telecommunication or recording. [Traditional knowledge] might be disclosed to third parties or to non-members of the indigenous and local communities from which [traditional knowledge] originates, with or without the authorization of the indigenous and local communities.”


A “disclosure” is a revelation of facts or act or process of making known something that was previously unknown. In the field of copyright, “disclosure” may mean making work accessible to the public for the first time. The first publication of works is one—but not the only possible—form of disclosure, since works may also be disclosed through non-copy related acts, such as public performance, and broadcasting to the public by cable (wire). Recognition of such a right is not an obligation under international copyright norms. The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1971) refers to the use of publicly disclosed works in the context of exceptions, and the author has the right to disclose his work to the world. Under certain national laws, the “right of disclosure” is a moral right.

Disclosure Document

A document disclosing an invention and signed by the inventor or inventors, that is forwarded to the USPTO only as evidence of the date of conception of the invention. The disclosure document may be forwarded to the USPTO by the inventor (or by any one of the inventors when there are joint inventors), by the owner of the invention, or by the attorney or agent of the inventor(s) or owner. A disclosure document is not the only type (and not necessarily the best type) of evidence of the date of conception of an invention. Notarized records or a conventional, witnessed, permanently bound, and page-numbered laboratory notebook may also serve as evidence of the date of conception of an invention.
A Disclosure Document will be retained for two years, and then be destroyed unless it is referred to in a separate letter in a related patent application filed within those two years. A Disclosure Document is not a patent application, and the date of its receipt in the USPTO will not become the effective filing date of any patent application subsequently filed..

Disclosure Requirements

Disclosure is part of the core rationale of patent law. Patent law imposes a general obligation on patent applicants, as referred to in Article 5 of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), “to disclose the invention in a manner sufficiently clear and complete for the invention to be carried out by a person skilled in the art.” However, “disclosure requirements” is also used as a general term for reforms made to patent law at the regional or national level, and proposals to reform international patent law, which would specifically require patent applicants to disclose several categories of information concerning traditional knowledge and/or genetic resources when these are used in developing the invention claimed in a patent or patent application.


To show a copy of a work, either directly or using a film, slide, television image, or any other device or process, or in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to show individual images non sequentially.

Dispute Resolution

This process is a method of resolving disputes between two companies out of court.

Divisional Application

A later application for an independent or distinct invention disclosing and claiming (only a portion of and) only subject matter disclosed in the earlier or parent application. A divisional patent application (or divisional application) refers to a patent application that contains material from a previous (or parent) patent application. It can occur when the applicant is required to split an application into two or more parts, as the original application is claiming more than one invention.A


A list of cases (applications) awaiting office actions.

Doctrine of Equivalents

A judicially created theory for finding patent infringement when the accused process or product falls outside the literal scope of the patent claims. The essential objective inquiry is: "Does the accused product or process contain elements identical or equivalent to each claimed element of the patented invention?".

Domestic Representative

A person residing within the United States who is appointed by a patentee or assignee of a trademark application or registration that does not reside in or is not domiciled within the United States. A domestic representative may be served process or notice of proceedings affecting the application, patent or trademark registration, or related rights.


Patent drawings must show every feature of the invention as specified in the claims. The omission of drawings may cause an application to be considered incomplete but are only required if drawings are necessary for the understanding of the subject matter sought to be patented.

Due Diligence

Due diligence is the diligence reasonably expected from, and ordinarily exercised by, a person who seeks to satisfy a legal requirement or to discharge an obligation.

damnum emergens

/dæmnʌm ɪˈmɜːdʒən/
/dæmnəm iˈmɜrdʒən/

Latin for "emergent loss". The loss incurred because of a contractual breach.

damnum et interesse

/dæmnʌm ɪt ˈɪntərɛs/
/dæmnəm ɛt ɪntrəssɛ/

Latin for "damage and interests". Tortious damages, damages in tort.

data certa

/deɪtə sɜːtə/ /dætə sɜːrta/

Latin for "certain date". The fixed effective date of a contract, i.e. one that cannot be ante- or post-dated.

datio in solutum

/deɪtɪˌəʊ ɪn sɒˈljuːtəm/
/deɪtiˌoʊ ɪn sɑlˌjutəm/

Latin for "giving in payment". Species of accord and satisfaction by transfer or assignment of property instead of money; kind of in-kind payment, as opposed to a money payment

de bonis asportatis

/də bəʊˌnɪz æspɔːˈteɪtɪs/
/dɪ ˈbounɪs æspɔːrtaɪtɪs/

Latin for "carrying goods away". Specifies that larceny was taking place in addition to any other crime named. E.g. "trespass de bonis asportatis".

de bonis non administratis

/də bəʊˌnɪz nōn ædˈmɪnɪstrɪtɪs/
/dɪ ˈbounɪs nɑn ædˌmɪnəˈstreitɪs/

Latin for "of goods not administered". Assets of an estate remaining after the death (or removal) of the designated estate administrator. An "administrator de bonis non administratis" will then be appointed to dispose of these goods.

de cujus

/deɪ cuːdʒu/ /di cuˌdʒu/

Latin for "(s)he for whom". The deceased, decedent. Short for de cujus successione agitur.

de die in diem

/deɪ daɪ ɪn daɪɛm/ /di daɪ ɪn diəm/

Latin for "from day to day". Generally refers to a type of labor in which the worker is paid fully after each day's work.

de facto

/deɪ ˈfæktəʊ/ /diˈfæktoʊ/

Latin for "in fact". Literally "from fact"; often used to mean something true in practice, but has not been officially instituted or endorsed. "For all intents and purposes". Cf. de jure.

de futuro

/deɪ fjuːtrəʊ/ /di fuˈtuːʀou/

Latin for "concerning the future". At a future date.

de integro

/deɪ ɪntəɡrəʊ/ /di ɪntəgrou/

Latin for "concerning the whole". Often used to mean "start it all over", in the context of "repeat de integro".

de jure

/deɪ ˈdʒʊəreɪ/ /diˈdʒʊri/

Latin for "according to law". Literally "from the law"; something that is established in law, whether or not it is true in general practice. Cf. de facto.

de lege ferenda

/deɪ lɪdʒ fəˈrɛndə/ /di lɪdʒ fəˈrɛnda/

Latin for "of the law as it should be". Used in the context of "how the law should be", such as for proposed legislation.

de lege lata

/deɪ lɪdʒ lɑːtə/ /di lɪdʒ lɑːtə/

Latin for "of the law as it is". Concerning the law as it exists, without consideration of how things should be.

de minimis

/deɪ mɪnɪˌmɪs/ /di mɪnɪˌmɪs/

Latin for "about the smallest things". Various legal areas concerning small amounts or small degrees.

de mortuis nil nisi bonum

/deɪ mɔːtuːɪ nɪl naɪsaɪ ˈbɒnʊm/ or /deɪ ˌmɔrtuɪs ˈnɪl ˈnisi ˈboʊnʊm/

Latin for "Of the dead, [speak] nothing unless good". The social convention that it is inappropriate to speak ill of the recently deceased, even if they were an enemy.

de novo

/deɪ nəʊvəʊ/ /di noʊvoʊ/

Latin for "anew". Often used in the context of "trial de novo" – a new trial ordered when the previous one failed to conclude.


/dɪˈbɛleɪʃɪˌəʊ/ /dɛbəleɪʃoʊ/

Latin for "warring down". Complete annihilation of a warring party, bringing about the end of the conflict.

delatio hereditatis

/dɪleɪʃɪˌəʊ hɪˌrɛdɪˈteɪtɪs/ or /dɛleɪʃoʊ həˌrɛdɪˈtaɪtɪs/

Latin for "hereditary transferral". Falling open of succession.

deorum injuriae diis curae

/dɪˈɔːrəm ɪndʒərɪaɪ dɪs kjʊərɪ/
/dɪˈɔrəm ɪndʒəriə dɪs kjʊrɪ/

Latin for "the gods take care of injuries to the gods". Blasphemy is a crime against the State, rather than against God.


/dɪktəm/ /ˈdɪktəm/

Latin for "(thing) said". A statement gave some weight or consideration due to the respect given to the person making it.

doli incapax

/dɒlɪ ɪnˈkeɪpæks/ /dɑlɪ ɪnˈkeɪpæks/

Latin for "incapable of guilt". The presumption that young children or persons with diminished mental capacity cannot form the intent to commit a crime.

dolus specialis

/dəʊləs spɛʃəˌlɪz/ /doʊləs ˈspɛʃəlɪz/

Latin for "Specific deceit". Heavily used in the context of genocide in international law.

domicilium citandi et executandi

/dɒmɪˈsɪlɪəm sɪtəndɪ ɪt ɛksɪˌkjuːtəndɪ/
/dɑməˈsɪliəm sɪtəɑːnˈdi ɛt ɛksɪˌkjutɑːnˈdi/

Latin for "domicile for summoning and carrying out". Address for service of notices (e.g. for contractual purposes).

dominium plurium in solidum

Latin for "plural, joint ownership". Joint tenancy.

dominium pro parte pro indiviso

/dominium prəʊ pɑːtɪ prəʊ ɪndɪˈvɪzəʊ/
/doʊˈmɪniəm proʊ pɑrti proʊ ɪndəˈvɪzoʊ/

Latin for "unpartitioned and undivided ownership". Tenancy in common. Also known as communio pro partibus indivisis.

dominus litis

/dɒmɪnʊs lɪˈtɪs/ /doʊminʊs litɪs/

Latin for "master of the case". Litigant, the client in a lawsuit, as opposed to the lawyer.

dominus soli

/dɒmɪnʊs səʊlɪ/ /doʊminʊs səˈlɪ/

Latin for "subsurface owner, mineral owner".

domitae naturae

/dɒmɪte nætjʊˈreɪ/ /dɑmətei nəˈtʊri/

Latin for "tame by nature". Tame or domesticated animal. Also called mansuetae naturae. Opposite of ferae naturae.

donatio mortis causa

/dəʊˈneɪʃɪˌəʊ mɔːtɪs kaʊzə/
/doʊˌneɪʃoʊ mɔrtɪs kausɑ/

Latin for "deathbed gift". Gift causa mortis; "The donor, contemplating imminent death, declares words of present gifting and delivers the gift to the donee or someone who takes possession on behalf of the donee. The gift becomes effective at death but remains revocable until that time."

dramatis personae

/ˈdrɑːmətɪs pəˈsəʊnaɪ/ /dræmətɪs pərˈsouni/

Latin for "persons of the drama".

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