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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.


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In the field of intellectual property, “misappropriation” is “the common-law tort of using the non-copyrightable information or ideas that an organization collects and disseminates for a profit to compete unfairly against that organization, or copying a work whose creator has not yet claimed or been granted exclusive rights in the work. […] The elements of misappropriation are: (1) the plaintiff must have invested time, money, or effort to extract the information, (2) the defendant must have taken the information with no similar investment, and (3) the plaintiff must have suffered a competitive injury because of the taking.”
The tort of misappropriation is part of unfair competition law in the common law system. Misappropriation thus entails the wrongful or dishonest use or borrowing of someone’s property, and is often used to find action in cases where no property right as such has been infringed. Misappropriation may refer to wrongful borrowing or to the fraudulent appropriation of funds or property entrusted to someone’s care but actually owned by someone else. For example, Article 3 of the draft Legal Framework for the Protection of Traditional Knowledge in Sri Lanka, 2009, defines “misappropriation” as “(i) acquisition, appropriation or use of traditional knowledge in violation of the provisions of this Act, (ii) deriving benefits from acquisition, appropriation or use of traditional knowledge where the person who acquires, appropriates or uses traditional knowledge is aware of, or could not have been unaware of, or is negligent to become aware of the fact that the traditional knowledge was acquired, appropriated or used by any unfair means and (iii) any commercial activity contrary to honest practices that results in unfair or inequitable benefits from traditional knowledge.”

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