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ABATEMENT - A reduction, a decrease, or a diminution.  The suspension or cessation, in whole or in part, of a continuing charge, such as rent.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT - An acknowledgment is a formal declaration by a person, or other legally recognized entity such as a corporation, that execution of a written instrument is the result of a free act and deed.  It is made before an authorized person, such as a notary public, who signs the written acknowledgment that the attached written instrument was acknowledged in his or her presence.

ACQUETS - Profits or gains in property value, under Louisiana Law.

ADVERSE POSSESSION - Adverse possession is the taking of title to real estate by possessing it for a certain period of time.  The person claiming title to real estate by adverse possession must have actual possession of the real estate that is open, notorious, exclusive and adverse to the claims of others to title of the real estate.

AFFIDAVIT - A written statement made by a person who claims actual knowledge of the information stated in the Affidavit. An affidavit is signed in front of a Notary Public. Affidavits are often used in place of live testimony at court hearings other than trials.

AGGREGATE STOCK - The aggregate stock is the total amount of stock that a corporation is authorized to issue through its articles or charter or certificate of incorporation.

AGREEMENT - A meeting of two or more minds; a coming together in opinion or determination; the coming together in accord of two minds on a given proposition.

In law, a concord of understanding and intention between two or more parties with respect to the effect upon their relative rights and duties, of certain past or future facts or performances.  The consent of two or more persons concurring respecting the transmission of some property, right, or benefits, with a view of contracting an obligation, a mutual obligation.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

A manifestation of mutual assent on the part of two or more persons as to the substance of a contract.  Restatement of Contracts, Second, of Section 3, etc.

The act of two or more persons, who unite in expressing a mutual and common purpose, with the view of altering their rights and obligations.  The union of two or more minds in a thing done or to be done; the mutual assent to do a thing.  A compact between parties who are thereby subjected to the obligation or to whom the contemplated right is thereby secured.

Although often used a synonymous with "contract," agreement is a broader term; e.g., an agreement might lack an essential element of a contract.  The bargain of the parties in fact as found in their language or by implication from other circumstances including course of dealing or use of trade or course of performance.

ALIMONY - Money paid by one spouse for the support and maintenance of the other spouse, sometimes called spousal maintenance.

ANNULMENT - A legal procedure that invalidates a marriage as if it had never happened.

ANSWER - The formal response to allegations made in a complaint or petition. Failure to serve or file an answer and response to a complaint or petition usually means the plaintiff/petitioner can ask the court to order a default divorce.

APPLICANT - In intellectual property, a party filing an application with a governmental authority seeking a grant of a patent or registration of a copyright or trademark.

ASSET - Property of all kinds, including real and personal property, tangible and intangible property.  It may even be patents or copyrights that are owned by an individual or a corporation.

ASSUMED NAME - A name other than its full legal name under which a party conducts business.

ASSIGNEE - One to whom an assignment has been granted.

ASSIGNMENT - The act of transferring legal title or ownership of substantially all commercial rights in intellectual property from one entity to another, or a document which performs the assignment. 

ASSIGNOR - One who grants an assignment.

AUTHOR - In copyright, the individual who first created an original work.

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BAILMENT - A delivery of goods or personal property, by one person (bailor) to another (bailee), in trust for the execution of a special object upon or in relation to such goods, beneficial either to the bailor or bailee or both, and upon a contract, expressed or implied, to perform the trust and carry out such object, and thereupon either to redeliver the goods to the bailor or otherwise dispose of the same in conformity with the purpose of the trust.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

BENEFICIARY - One who benefits from the act of another.  As used in probate law, one who inherits under a will.

BEQUEST - A bequest is a gift by will of property.

BERNE CONVENTION - An international copyright treaty, officially named the Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, signed at Berne, Switzerland, on September 9, 1886, and all acts, protocols, and revisions thereto.

BILATERAL CONTRACT - A bilateral contract is also known as a reciprocal contract and is defined as a contract by which the parties expressly enter into mutual engagements such as a sale or hire.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS - The board of directors is made up of the individuals who operate a corporation and to whom the officers of a corporation must answer.  The board of directors generally sets the policy and direction of a corporation and its operations.

BONA FIDE - Latin phrase meaning in good faith, without deceit or fraud. - Latin phrase meaning in good faith, without deceit or fraud.

BREACH OF CONTRACT - Failure, without legal excuse, to perform any promise that forms the whole or part of a contract.  Prevention or hindrance by a party to contract of any occurrence or performance requisite under the contract for the creation or continuance of a right in favor of the other party or the discharge of a duty by him.  Unequivocal, distinct and absolute refusal to perform agreement.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

BYLAWS - Bylaws of a corporation are the rules by which the shareholders run the corporation.

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CAPITALIZATION - Capitalization is the sum of money used to create the financial existence of an entity such as a corporation.

CERTIFICATION MARK - A mark used to indicate that goods or services sold under the mark meet certain standards of quality as determined by the owner of the certification mark. 

CHANCERY - The court that has jurisdiction over divorce cases in some states. In these states, the judge may be called the chancellor. These terms are taken from English Law.

CHILD SUPPORT - Money paid for the care, support and education of a child.

CHOSE IN ACTION - A right to claim personal property by a lawsuit, as apposed to a chose in possession, which refers to having possession of personal property.

CLAIMS - In patent, the numbered paragraphs at the end of a patent that set out the scope of the patent; that is, define in words exactly what is covered by the patent. 

COLLECTIVE WORK - In copyright, a work, such as a periodical issue, anthology, or encyclopedia, in which a number of contributions, constituting separate and independent works in themselves, are assembled into a collective whole. 17 U.S.C. § 101.

COMMERCE - Commerce is usually the exchange of goods, productions, or property of any kind where buying or selling is involved.

COMMITTEE - A committee is generally a group of persons who have assembled for a designated or specific purpose.  In most cases, a committee is set up to perform a specific task on behalf of the entity, such as a corporation, which charges the committee with that task.

COMMON LAW - Legal rules that are solely based on previous judicial rulings derived from principles of justice rather than from statutes or other regulations defined by legislature. 

COMMUNITY PROPERTY - A legal system for defining the ownership and management of property by spouses during a marriage.  Community property is property that is owned by a husband and wife.  Each spouse has an undivided one-half interest in the property.  Some states have the community property system; others do not, but instead follow the common law system.  The difference is that in a community property system, each spouse has an undivided one-half interest in what the other owns or earns during the marriage, while in a common law system, each spouse owns what he or she earns.

COMPILATION - In copyright, a work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that are selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship. The term "compilation" includes collective works. 17 U.S.C. § 101.

COMPLAINT - The first court paper served or filed in a lawsuit. In some states, the complaint is called a petition or a libel.

CONDITIONAL CONTRACT - A contract whose very existence and performance depends upon the happening of some contingency or condition expressly stated therein.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

CONSIDERATION - The inducement to a contract.  The cause, motive, price, or impelling influence that induces a contracting party to enter into a contract.  The reason or material cause of a contract.  Some right, interest, profit, or benefit accruing to one party, or some forbearance, detriment, loss, or responsibility, given, suffered, or undertaken by the other.  Restatement of Contracts, Second, Section 17(1), 71.  From Black's Law Dictionary, sixth edition.

CONSIGNMENT - The act or process of consigning goods; the transportation of goods consigned; an article or collection of goods sent to a factor; goods or property sent, by the aid of a common carrier, from one person and one place to another person and another place; something consigned and shipped.  Entrusting of goods to another to sell for the consignor.  A bailment for sale.

CONTRACT - A contract is an agreement between two or more persons, including a corporation, that creates an obligation to do or not to do a particular thing.  As defined in Restatement, Second, Contracts, Section 3: "A contract is a promise or a set of promises for the breach of which the law gives a remedy, or the performance of which the law in some way recognizes as a duty."  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

CONVEYANCE - A conveyance is the transfer of land from one person to another.  Examples of conveyances include deeds, real estate contracts, or contracts for deeds, assignments, leases, or mortgages or deeds of trust.  A conveyance usually is accomplished by execution by one person of a written instrument transferring his or her interest in the real estate to another person.

COPYRIGHT - A form of intellectual property protection over original works of authorship, including literary, musical, dramatic, choreographic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, audio, visual and architectural works.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE - A written indication on a work that informs the public that the work is protected by copyright, properly including the symbol © (or the word "Copyright" or "Copr"), the year of first publication of the work, and the name of the owner of copyright in the work.

CORPORATE BOOK - The corporate book generally contains the official documents of the corporation.

CORPORATE ENTITY - A corporate entity is the distinct or unique status of a corporation that sets it apart and its existence apart from that of its individual shareholders.

CORPORATE NAME - The corporate name is the name that is corporation uses to conduct business.  Generally, the corporation's name must include certain specific requirements according to each state's laws.  Those requirements may include the abbreviation Inc., Co., Corp., and/or Ltd.

CORPORATE OFFICERS - The corporate officers of a company are the people who fill the offices of the company and who conduct the business for the day-to-day operations.  Officers may include the president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer.

CORPORATION - The corporation is an artificial entity created by state law.  It is usually an association of persons who are brought together to form the entity for a specific investment or other purpose.  Under the law, a corporation is treated as an individual and may sue or be sued.  A corporation is distinct from the individuals who own its shares.  A corporations also survives in the event of the death of an individual shareholder.

COVENANT - A covenant is an agreement, contract, or promise.  It may be in the affirmative such as the representation as to certain facts or the future performance of an act, or it may be in the negative such as the obligation not to do something.  Affirmative covenants may be found in a deed such as the warranties of seisin, quiet enjoyment, right to convey, freedom from encumbrances and defense of title as to adverse claims.  Negative covenants sometimes are referred to as restrictive covenants.

COVENANT AGAINST ENCUMBRANCES - This covenant is an agreement, contract, or promise that there are no encumbrances against the land described in the deed or other conveyance.  An encumbrance is a claim by another person against the land.  Examples of encumbrances include mortgages, liens, leases, easements or unpaid taxes.

COVENANT OF QUIET ENJOYMENT - This covenant is an agreement, contract, or promise that the grantee to a deed or other conveyance will have the land in peace and without disturbance from other persons who may have hostile claims to the land. 

COVENANT OF RIGHT TO CONVEY - This covenant is an agreement, contract, or promise that the grantor has a right to transfer title to the real estate. 

COVENANT OF SEISIN - This covenant is an agreement, contract, or promise that the grantor possesses equality and quantity of the land described in the deed or other conveyance.

CUSTODY - The legal authority to control a child.

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DECEDENT - A decedent is a person who has died.

DECLARATION - An unnotarized, written statement of an applicant, inventor, or witness, including a statement that willful false statements and the like are punishable by fine or imprisonment, or both.

DECREE - The final order of the court.

DEED - A conveyance of realty; a writing signed by grantor, whereby title to realty is transferred from one to another.  A deed is the transfer of title to real estate from one person to another.  It is in writing.  The person transferring the title is known as the grantor and the person receiving the title is known as the grantee.  There are several types of deeds including warranty deeds, special warranty deeds, quit claim deeds, contracts for deed, and deeds of trust.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

DEED OF TRUST - See Mortgage.

DEFAULT - Failure to do an act or file a document within the required time limit.

DEFAULT DIVORCE - If the spouse who is served with a summons and complaint for divorce fails to serve and file a formal response within the required time limit, the court will generally award the relief requested by the plaintiff. This is called a default or uncontested divorce.

DEFENDANT - The person against whom the lawsuit is started. In some states, the defendant in a divorce case is referred to as the respondent.

DERIVATIVE WORK - In copyright, 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 revision, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications that, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a "derivative work."

DESIGN PATENT - A patent that deals with new, original and ornamental designs for articles of manufacture. 35 U.S.C. § 171. 

DISCOVERY - The formal procedures provided by law for parties to use during a lawsuit to obtain information from the other party.

DISPUTE - A conflict or controversy; a conflict of claims or rights; an assertion of a right, claim, or demand on one side, met by contrary claims or allegations.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

DISTINCTIVENESS - In trademark, the degree to which a mark by itself is interpreted by a reasonable consumer to indicate the source of origin of goods or services.

DIVORCE - The legal termination of marriage. In some states, divorce is called dissolution of marriage.

DIVORCE DECREE - A divorce decree is the court’s final order granting the divorce, dividing the assets, and making any other final orders appropriate to the circumstances of the case. The words judgment and decree are often used interchangeably.

DOCUMENT - An instrument on which is recorded by means of letters, figures, or marks, the original, official, or legal form of something that may be eventually used.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

DOMICILE - The established, permanent place of residence of a person.

DONEE - One who is invested with a power of appointment; the party executing a power; otherwise called the appointer.  One to whom a gift is made or a bequest given.

DURESS - Threats of harm that force a person to do some act that the person would not otherwise have done.

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EARNEST MONEY - A sum of money paid by a buyer at the time of entering a contract to indicate the intention and ability of the buyer to carry out the contract.

Normally, earnest money is applied against the purchase price.  Often, the contract provides for forfeiture of this sum if the buyer defaults.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

EARNINGS - Income.  That which is earned; i.e., money earned from performance of labor, services, sale of goods, etc.  Revenue earned by an individual or business.  Earnings generally include but are not limited to: salaries and wages, interest and dividends, and income from self-employment.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

EASEMENT - An easement is a right of one person to use the real estate of another, or a portion of it, for certain purposes.  An example of an easement is one for ingress and egress; that is, the right to travel across a portion of another’s real estate to reach one's own real estate.  Another example of an easement commonly seen is one for utilities.  Easements may arise from an agreement between the parties or from operation of law.

EMANCIPATION - The act by which one who was unfree, or under the power and control of another, is rendered free, or set at liberty and made his own master.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

EMPLOYMENT - An act of employing or state of being employed; that which engages or occupies; that which consumes time or attention; also an occupation, profession, trade, post or business.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT - An agreement or contract between employer and employee in which the terms or conditions of one's employment are provided.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

ENTRY - When the clerk of court makes a written record in the court records of the divorce decree or judgment of divorce.

EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION - The legal standard for dividing property in a divorce , followed by the majority of states. The property and debts of the parties are divided equitably, which means in a fair manner.

ESCROW - A legal document (such as a deed), money, stock, or other property delivered by the grantor, promissor, or obligator to the hands of a third person to be held by the latter until the happening of a contingency or performance of a condition, and then by him delivered to the grantee, promissee or obligee.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

EXCULPATORY - Clearing or tending to clear from alleged fault or guilt; excusing.

EX PARTE - By one party without the other party present. For example, under certain circumstances the judge may issue an ex parte order that is based on an ex parte application by one party only, without the judge first hearing from the other party.

EXPENSE - An expense is generally that which is an outlay, charge, cost, or price of something.  An expenditure of time, money, or effort may be construed to be an expense.

EXPRESS CONTRACT - An express contract is an actual agreement of the parties, the terms of which are openly uttered or declared at the time of making it, being stated in distinct and explicit language, either orally or in writing.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

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FAIR USE - In copyright, a use that can be legally made of a copyrighted work without the copyright owner's permission, such as for purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. 17 U.S.C. § 107. 

FIDUCIARY - A person similar to a trustee, with respect to the trust and confidence involved in the duties and the good faith and candor which the position requires.  This person normally acts primarily for another's benefit.  For example, an executor of an estate is a fiduciary.

FINANCIAL STATEMENT - A court document that each party must complete in order to provide the court with a full picture of the income, expenses, debts, and assets of the party, before the court makes decisions about child support, alimony, attorney fees, and other financial issues. In some states the form is called an application for temporary relief, or an income and expense statement, or various other names.

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW - The document issued by a judge that states the facts the judge found to be true and the judge’s conclusions based upon those facts.

FORECLOSURE - Foreclosure is the legal enforcement of a mortgage, deed of trust, or other lien through legal proceedings.  A common example is a foreclosure of a mortgage because of some type of default by the debtor.  Foreclosure usually terminates the rights of the debtor, or mortgagor, in the real estate, except for such rights of redemption, mandatory mediation, or other rights afforded to the debtor by law.

FRIEND OF THE COURT - In some states, a separate agency within the court system, having the power to administer child support and visitation.

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GATT - General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (G.A.T.T.) - An international treaty on many aspects of international commerce, including various provisions directed at intellectual property as added through the Uruguay Round Agreements Act in 1994.

GENERICIDE - In trademark, the act or instance of a previously source-identifying mark becoming a common, generic word for a good or service.

GRANTEE - A grantee is a person who receives title or some other interest in real estate from a conveyance.  For example, a person who receives title to real estate by way of warranty deed is known as a grantee.

GRANTOR - A grantor is a person who conveys title or some other interest to property to another. 

GROUND FOR DIVORCE - The legal reason or cause for requesting a divorce.

GUARDIAN AD LITEM - A person appointed by a court to represent the interests of a minor child.

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HEIR - A person determined by law to inherit the estate in the case of a person who dies without a will (intestacy).

HOMESTEAD - The dwelling house and adjoining land where the family dwells.  The amount of land considered part of the homestead varies by state.  Homestead is real estate occupied by a person as his or her home.  Homesteads often are protected by state law from execution or levy so long as they are occupied as the person's home residence.  The size and value of the real estate to be protected as homestead are often determined by statute.

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IDEA EXPRESSION DICHOTOMY - The concept that copyright protection only extends to expression, not the underlying idea.

IMPLIED CONTRACT - An implied contract is one not created or evidenced by the explicit agreement of the parties, but inferred by the law as a matter of reason and justice from their acts or conduct, circumstances surrounding the transaction making it a reasonable, or even a necessary, assumption that a contract existed between them by tacit understanding.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

INCOMPATIBILITY - One of the no-fault grounds for divorce used in some states. Incompatibility means there is a conflict between the personalities and the characters of the parties that makes it impossible or impractical for the parties to be able to live together as married.

INCONTESTABLE - In trademark, the status of a mark that has been used continuously for five years after federal registration, for which validity, ownership and exclusive rights are conclusively established by the registration. 15 U.S.C. § 1065.

INCORPORATE - To incorporate means to create or set up a corporation.

INCORPORATION - Incorporation is generally the act of process of forming a corporation.  It is the act of making a corporation a legal entity.

INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR - Generally, one who, in exercise of an independent employment, contracts to do a piece of work according to his own methods and is subject to his employer's control only as to end product or final result of his work.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

INDICIA - Indications or circumstances that point to the existence of a specific conclusion. For example, indicia of ownership would be circumstances or facts that point to the conclusion that something is owned by a particular person.

INFANCY (minority) - Infancy or minority is the state of a person who is under the age of legal majority - at common law, twenty-one years; now, generally eighteen years.  According to the sense in which this term is used, it may denote the condition of the person with reference to his years, or the contractual disabilities which non-age initials, or his status with regard to other powers or relation.

At common law, children under the age of seven are conclusively presumed to be without criminal capacity; those who have reached the age of fourteen are treated as fully responsible, while as to those between the ages of seven and fourteen, there is a rebuttal presumption of criminal incapacity.  Many states have made some change by statute in the age of criminal responsibility for minors.  In addition, all jurisdictions have adopted juvenile court legislation providing that some or all criminal conduct by those persons under a certain age (usually age eighteen) must or may be adjudicated in the juvenile court rather than in criminal prosecution.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition. 

INFRINGEMENT - The legally redressable violation of an intellectual property right.

INHERENTLY DISTINCTIVE - In trademark, being fanciful, arbitrary or suggestive and therefore capable of identifying the source of origin for goods or services without further evidence of secondary meaning.

INTANGIBLE PROPERTY - Intangible property is the representative or evidence of value, such as certificates of stock, bonds, and notes.  Goodwill, trademarks, copyrights and franchises are also intangible assets.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY - A form of intangible asset that can be owned, transferred and licensed, including patents (utility, design, and plant patents), trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets, as well as certain additional acts labeled "unfair competition." 

INTENT - Design, resolve, or determination with which a person acts.  A state of mind in which a person seeks to accomplish a given result through a course of action.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

INTERROGATORIES - Written questions that must be answered in writing, under oath, and within a specific time.

INTER VIVOS - Between the living; from one living person to another.  Where property passes by conveyance, the transaction is said to be inter vivos, to distinguish it from a case of succession or devise.

INTESTATE - One who dies without having made a valid will.

INURE - To take effect; to result.  In property law, to come to the benefit of a person or to fix his interest therein.

INVENTOR - A person who conceives or contrives a previously unknown method, article, composition or improvement.

INVESTMENT - An investment is generally an expenditure made to acquire property or another asset generally for the purpose of producing revenue.  Generally, it is the placing of capital in a way intended to secure income from profit gained by the use of that capital.

INVESTMENT CONTRACT - A contract in which one party invests money or property expecting return on his investment.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES - One of the no-fault grounds for divorce used in some states. Irreconcilable differences are those differences between spouses that are considered sufficiently severe to make continuation of the marriage not possible.

IRRETRIEVABLE BREAKDOWN - One of the no-fault grounds for divorce used in some states. An irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship is where the parties have marital difficulties and there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation between the parties.

ISSUE - All persons who have descended from a common ancestor.  Offspring; progeny; descent; lineage; lineal descendants.  In this sense, the word includes not only a child or children, but all other descendants in whatever degree, and it is so construed generally in deeds.  But, when used in wills, it is, of course, subject to the rule of construction that the intention of the testator, as ascertained from the language used by him or her; hence issue may, in such a connection, be restricted to children, or to descendants living at the death of the testator, where such an intention clearly appears.

The terms "issue" and "descendants" have been held to be co-entensive and interchangeable.  The word "issue" in a will is generally a word of limitation, and when so used, is sometimes said to be equivalent to "heirs of the body."  But it has been pointed out in other cases that this word is not as strong a word of limitation as the words "heirs of the body," and yields readily to a context indicating its use as a work of purchase.  The term is commonly held to include only legitimate issue.  The general rule in most states is that the illegitimate child may inherit from his or her mother but not from his or her father, but may inherit from both if legitimated.  Many states' intestacy statutes provide that an adopted child is "issue" of his or her adopted parents.

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JOINT AND SEVERAL - A joint contract is one made by two or more promissors, who are jointly bound to fulfill its obligations, or made to two or more promisseees, who are jointly entitled to require performance of the same.  A contract may be "several" as to any one of several promissors or promissees, if a person has a legal right (either from the terms of the agreement or the nature of the undertaking) to enforce his individual interest separately from the other parties.  Generally, all contracts are joint where the interest of the parties benefiting from the contract is joint, and separate where that interest is separate.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

JOINT CUSTODY - Custody of a child is shared by the parents in a structured arrangement.

JOINT LEGAL CUSTODY - Both parents of a child have equal rights to participate in major decisions for the child.

JOINT PHYSICAL CUSTODY - The routine, day to day care, control, and residence of the child is divided between the parents.

JOINT TENANCY - A joint tenancy is a joint interest in property by two or more persons.  Each joint tenant has one and the same interest in the property and further holds the right of survivorship, which means that if one joint tenant dies the other joint tenant automatically retains the deceased joint tenant’s interest in the real estate.

JOINT VENTURE - A joint venture is usually an undertaking by more than one individual or corporation for mutual benefit or mutual profit.  Most generally it is where individuals contribute certain assets and share certain risks.

JOINT WORK - In copyright, a work prepared by two or more authors with the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole. 17 U.S.C. § 101. 

JUDGMENT - A judgment is a  final decree, decision, order, or ruling by a court determining the rights and claims raised by parties to a lawsuit.

JUDGMENT LIEN - A judgment lien is a lien arising from a judgment which gives a holder of a judgment the right to levy on property to satisfy the judgment.

JURISDICTION - When the court has the authority to decide the issues in a case.

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LANHAM ACT - The U.S. federal trademark statute, 15 U.S.C. § 1051 et seq.

LAWFUL - Lawful means something that is legal or authorized by the law.  Specific statutes may qualify what a party or corporation may or may not do under the law.

LEASE - Any agreement that gives rise to relationship of landlord and tenant (real property) or lessor and lessee (real or personal property).  A contract for exclusive possession of lands, tenements or hereditaments for life, for term of years, at will, or for any interest less than that of lessor, usually for a specified rent or compensation.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.  A lease is an agreement or contract for possession of property for a certain period of time and for certain uses.  A lease may run for a determinate or indeterminate period of time.  Upon conclusion or termination of the lease, possession of the property reverts back to the landlord or lessor.  The person leasing the property is known as the lessee or tenant.

LEGAL AGE - Legal age generally means the age at which a person acquires the capacity to make and enter into his or her own contracts.  This age may vary from state to state.

LEGAL CUSTODY - The right to make important decisions for a child, such as education, healthcare, and religion, regardless of where the child lives.

LEGAL ENTITY - Legal entity generally means legal existence; an entity other than a natural person that has an existence recognized by the law, such as a corporation.

LIABILITY - Liability is a very broad term but, generally, means a responsibility or obligation that arises out of the occurrence of some hazard or act.  It also relates to debts and obligations.

LIBEL - The first court paper filed in a lawsuit is generally called the complaint or the petition. In a few states, it is called a libel.

LICENSE - The act of transferring legal title or ownership of a portion of the commercial rights in intellectual property from one entity to another, or a document that performs the license.

LICENSEE - One to whom a license has been granted.

LICENSOR - One who grants a license.

LIEN - A claim, encumbrance, or charge on the property for payment of some debt, obligation, or duty.  A lien is a claim or interest of right to property or a portion of it, arising by law or by agreement for payment of a debt.  Examples of liens include mortgages, mechanic’s liens, judgment liens, and security agreements.

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MAJORITY - Full age; legal age; the age at which, by law, a person is entitled to the management of his own affairs and to the enjoyment of civic rights.

MARITAL PROPERTY - Property accumulated by either or both spouse during the marriage. In community property states, marital property is called community property.

MARKING - In patents and trademark, placement of a symbol or wording on an article or package to inform the public of the patented or trademarked status.

MECHANIC'S LIEN - This lien is a lien on real estate held by any person for labor, services, or materials furnished in connection with the construction or improvement upon real estate.  This lien is often created by the statutes of a particular state.

MEDIATION - A process in which an impartial third party helps the parties to a case reach an agreement on one or more issues.

MEDICAL SUPPORT - Money paid by either or both parents for health insurance or medical expenses for a child.

MEETING MINUTES - The meeting minutes of a corporation are generally a printed recounting of the actions taken by the board of directors or the shareholders of a corporation.

MEETINGS - In a corporate sense, meetings mean the calling together of either the board of directors or the shareholders or both for the purpose of carrying out the official acts of the corporation.

MESNE - Intermediate; intervening; the middle between two extremes, especially of rank or time.

MORTGAGE - Mortgage is an interest in land created by a written instrument providing security for the performance of duty or payment of a debt.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.  A mortgage is a written instrument giving an interest in real estate from one person, the mortgagor, to another person, the mortgagee, as security for a debt or performance of a duty.  Depending on the laws of a particular state, a mortgage may create an actual transfer of title, or it may create a lien with the mortgagor retaining title to the property.

MOTION - A written request to the court, asking the court to take some kind of action in the case, short of resolving the entire case in a trial.

MUTUAL PROMISE - Promises simultaneously made by and between two parties; each promise being the consideration for the other. From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

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NAFTA - North American Free Trade Agreement (N.A.F.T.A.) - An international treaty between countries in North America on many aspects of North American international commerce, including various provisions directed at intellectual property.

NO-FAULT DIVORCE - A divorce that is requested on a no-fault ground, that is any legally permissible cause for divorce other than the fault or misconduct of the other party.

NON-MARITAL PROPERTY - Property that is excluded from being considered marital property. Typically, non-marital property includes that which is owned by a party prior to the marriage, or that which is given to the party or inherited by the party during the marriage.

NOTARY PUBLIC - A person, generally licensed by the state, whose responsibility is to watch people sign forms and documents. The Notary Public then signs the form, stating that the person signed the form in the presence of the Notary.

NOTE - An instrument containing an express and absolute promise of signer (i.e., maker) to pay to a specified person or order, or bearer, a definite sum of money at a specified time.  An instrument that is a promise to pay, other than a certificate of deposit.  UCC Section 3-104(2)(d).  Two party instrument made by the maker and payable to payee that is negotiable as signed by the maker and contains an unconditional promise to pay sum certain in money, on demand or at a definite time, to order or bearer.  UCC Section 3-104(1).  A note not meeting these requirements may be assignable but not negotiable.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

There are several notes including: a collateral note, which is a two party instrument containing a promise to pay and secure by pledge of property such as security, real estate, etc.; a demand note, which is a note payable on demand as contrasted with a time note, which is payable at a definite time in the future; an installment note, which is one of a series of notes payable at regular intervals; a single note calling for payment and installments at fixed periods of time; a joint and several note, which is a note signed by persons as makers who agree to be bound, jointly and severally; i.e., they may be joined in a suit or they may be sued separately; joint note, which is a note evidencing indebtedness with two or more persons agreeing to be liable jointly and for payment of which all such persons may be joined in an action to recover; mortgage note, which is a note evidencing a loan for which real estate has been offered as security; a negotiable note, which is a note signed by the maker, containing an unconditional promise to pay a certain sum in money that is payable on demand or at a definite time to order or bearer; and secured note, which is a note for which security in the form of either real or personal property has been pledged or mortgaged.  See Uniform Commercial Code Section 3-104(1).

NULLITY - Absolutely no legal force or effect. For example, if a party seeks a court order declaring a marriage to be null and void, the action may be called a suit for nullity of marriage.

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OATH - An oral statement of an applicant, inventor, or witness, made before a person authorized by law to administer oaths.

OBLIGATION - A generic word, derived from a Latin substantive "obligatio," having many, wide, and varied meanings according to the context in which it is used.  That which a person is bound to do or forebear; any duty imposed by law, promise, contract, relations of society, courtesy, kindness, etc.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

OBLIGEE - A person entitled to receive payments under the terms of a court order for child support.

OBLIGOR - A promissor.  The person who has engaged to perform some obligation.  Person obligated under a contract or bond.  In domestic law may refer to a person required to make payments under the terms of a court order for child support.

OFFSET - A deduction; a counterclaim; a contrary claim or demand by which a given claim may be lessened or canceled.  An "offset" may be defined as a claim that serves to counterbalance or to compensate for another claim.

OPEN END CONTRACT - Contract (normally sales contract) in which certain terms (e.g. order amount) are deliberately left open.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

OPPOSITION - In trademark, a legal proceeding in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office against registration of a trademark or service mark, filed after the mark has been published but before the mark has been registered.

ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE - An order issued by a judge, requiring a party to appear at a court hearing and explain (show cause) why the judge should not make additional orders being requested by the other party.

ORGANIZATION - Organization usually means to place together or bring together the elements necessary for forming a corporation.  It is generally where two or more people have a common interest to place in operation through a series of steps an entity such as a company.

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PARENTAL CONSENT - Consent required of minor from parent to marry or to take other legal obligations.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

PARIS CONVENTION - An international treaty on patents and trademarks, entitled Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property of March 20, 1883, and all revisions thereto.

PAROL CONTRACT - An oral contract as distinguished from a written or formal contract.

PATENT - A document that provides an exclusive right to practice an invention for a limited time.

PATENT CLAIMS - The numbered paragraphs at the end of a patent that set out the scope of the patent; that is, define in words exactly what is covered by the patent.

PATENT COOPERATION TREATY (PCT) - An international patent treaty done at Washington, D.C. on June 19, 1970 and amended October 2, 1979 and February 3, 1984, under which a single patent application receives an initial search and examination by a central examining authority, and the considerable expense of filing applications in various nations is deferred for up to 30 months.

PATENT DECLARATION - An unnotarized, written statement of an inventor stating that he or she is the first, original and true inventor of the invention defined by the claims of a patent application.

PATENT MARKING - Placement of the word "patent" or the abbreviation "pat." together with the number of a patent on an article covered by the patent.

PATENT PROSECUTION - The process for obtaining a patent from a governmental patent office.

PATENT RULES - The rules of practice in patent cases, 37 C.F.R. § 1.1 et seq.

PATERNITY - The legal status of being a father.

PATERNITY ACTION - A lawsuit or court motion asking the court to order that a man is the legal father of a child.

PAYSOP - Type of employee’s stock ownership plan.

PENDENTE LITE - While the case is pending. A court order for temporary child support or other relief that is in force while the case is pending is called a pendente lite order.

PERFORMANCE - The fulfillment or accomplishment of a promise, contract, or other obligation, according to its terms, relieving such person of all further obligation or liability thereunder.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

PERSONAL CONTRACT - A contract relating to personal property, or one that so far involves the element of personal knowledge or skill or personal confidence that it can be performed only by the person with whom made, and therefore is not binding on his executor.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

PERSONAL PROPERTY - Personal property is generally defined as all property that is not real estate.  This would include such items as goods, money, notes, bonds, stocks.

PETITION - The first court paper served or filed in a lawsuit. In some states, the petition is called a complaint or libel.

PETITIONER - The person who starts a lawsuit by serving or filing a petition. When the document that initiates a lawsuit is called a complaint, the person starting the lawsuit is usually referred to as the plaintiff.

PHYSICAL CUSTODY - If a parent has physical custody of a child, the parent is responsible for the day to day care and control of the child who lives with that parent.

PLAINTIFF - The person who starts a lawsuit by serving or filing a complaint. In some states, the plaintiff in a divorce case is called a petitioner.

PLANT PATENT - A patent dealing with a distinct and new variety of asexually reproduced plant.

POUR-OVER - This is a type of will that directs that property be distributed into a trust.

POWER OF ATTORNEY - A power of attorney is a written instrument that authorizes one person to act as another's agent or attorney.  The power of attorney may be for a definite, specific act, or it may be general in nature.  The terms of the written power of attorney may specify when it will expire.  If not, the power of attorney usually expires when the person granting it dies.

PRACTICING AN INVENTION - Any of the acts of making, using, selling, offering for sale or importing a product or service which incorporates or uses an invention.

PRESIDENT - The president of a corporation is generally in charge of a company's operations.  The duties and obligations of the president may be regulated by the bylaws of the company.

PRIMA FACIE - Latin phrase meaning "at first view," for items established without requiring further evidence.

PRIORITY - In patent or trademark, a claim that an application is entitled to a constructive filing date of an earlier filed application.

PROCESS - In litigation, the means of compelling the defendant to respond. For example, service of the summons, which compels the defendant to answer the plaintiff’s complaint or petition, is a type of process.

PROMISE - A declaration that binds the person who makes it, either in honor, conscience, or law, to do or forbear a certain, specific act, and which gives to the person to whom made a right to expect or claim the performance of some particular thing.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

PROPERTY - Property is generally an item that has an ownership quality.  It is an item that belongs to an individual or a corporation.  It generally has a determined amount of value and usually denotes anything that is the subject of ownership (tangible or intangible).

PRO SE - If a person is not represented by an attorney, that party is pro se.  Latin phrase for "for oneself".

PROSECUTION - In patent or trademark, the process of applying for and obtaining the patent or trademark from a governmental office.

PROTHONOTARY - The title given to the chief clerk of court in the court systems in some states.

PTO - The Patent and Trademark Office of the United States, established under the Department of Commerce for administrating issues relating to the granting of patents and the registration of trademarks.

PURCHASE - Transmission of property from one person to another by a voluntary act and agreement, founded on valuable consideration.  To own by paying or by promising to pay an agreed price that is enforceable at law.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

PURCHASE AGREEMENT - OFFER AND ACCEPTANCE - A purchase agreement or offer and acceptance is an agreement or contract between a buyer and a seller defining the terms of a real estate sale.  It usually includes the price, the description of the property to be purchased, the identity of the buyer and seller, when the transfer of title is to take place, and other terms necessary for completion for the transfer of title.

PURPOSE - The purpose for a corporation is usually defined in the articles of incorporation.  The corporation purpose may also be subject to certain state laws.  It sets out the reason for the corporation's existence.

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QUASI CONTRACT - Legal fiction invented by common law courts to permit recovery by contractual remedy in cases where, in fact, there is no contract, but where circumstances are such that justice warrants a recovery as though there had been a promise.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

QUIT CLAIM DEED - A quit claim deed is a written instrument whereby the person signing it transfers all right, claim or interest in title to the real estate to another.  It does not covenant or warrant that the grantor's interest is valid and it does not contain any of the covenants or warranties typically found in a warranty deed.

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RATIFICATION OF ACTS - Ratification generally means the confirmation and acceptance of certain acts that are undertaken on behalf of an entity such as a corporation.

REAL ESTATE - Real estate is generally understood to be land or anything permanently affixed to the land, such as buildings, fences, etc.  Real estate is generally synonymous with real property or realty.

REAL ESTATE CONTRACT - SALES CONTRACT - A real estate or sales contract is an agreement to transfer title to real estate at some time in the future contingent upon the occurrence of certain events such as payment of the purchase price.  The seller is known as the vendor and the buyer is known as the vendee.  The vendor transfers title upon the vendee’s performance of his or her obligations under the real estate or sales contract.

REBUTTABLE PRESUMPTION - When something is assumed to be true and correct unless the other party offers evidence to disprove or rebut the presumption. For example, in most states there is a rebuttable presumption that the amount of child support calculated pursuant to the child support guidelines is the proper amount of support to be ordered by court.

RECORDATION - The act of recording a document with a governmental authority, often used to record a transfer of ownership as a way of putting future purchasers on notice of the change in ownership.

REGISTERED AGENT - A registered agent is a natural person or a corporation authorized to act on behalf of a corporation, such as accepting service of process in the event the corporation is sued.  It is the person who would be contacted relative to official business of the corporation.

REGISTERED OFFICE - A registered office is the location of a particular company.  It is generally the official office where service of process may be made upon a company and is also the office where the official documents including minutes are maintained.

RESIDENCE - The place where a person has established a permanent home from which the person has no present intention of moving.

RESPONDENT - The person against whom the lawsuit is started is called the respondent or the defendant.

RESTRICTIVE COVENANT - A restrictive covenant is an agreement, contract, or promise by one person who agrees not to do something.  If found in a deed, it is the restriction or prohibition of certain uses of the land transferred.

ROYALTY - A payment to the owner of property for the right to use the property.

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SECONDARY MEANING - An association in the mind of the public between a mark and a (perhaps anonymous) source of origin for the goods or services sold under the mark.

SECRETARY - The secretary of a corporation is generally the individual who maintains the books and records of the corporation.  The secretary also reads and approves the various minutes, stock certificates that are issued, and any other official documents that are issued by the corporation.  Most generally, the president and the secretary need to sign documents evidencing ownership or claims against ownership such as stocks, bonds, or debentures.  However, it is usually the secretary alone who signs the corporate minutes and keeps the minutes of the company.

SECRETARY OF STATE - The secretary of state is the official, usually elected by the general public, who manages the business affairs of a given state.  Generally, it is the secretary of state who collects the fees for state operations, including filing fees of corporations.  In some states, it may be a specific officer other than the secretary of state who registers corporations.

SERIAL WORK - In copyright, a work that is published periodically in a series, such as a daily newspaper or monthly magazine.

SERVICE MARK - Any word, symbol or device, or combination thereof, that is used to identify and distinguish a person's services from services performed or sold by others and to indicate the source of those services, even if that source is unknown. 15 U.S.C. § 1127.

SERVICE OF PROCESS (also known as process of service) - The service of writs, summonses, etc., signifies the delivering to or leaving them with the party to whom or with whom they ought to be delivered or left; and, when they are so delivered, they are then said to have been served.  Usually a copy only is served and the original is shown.  The service must furnish reasonable notice to defendant of proceedings to afford him opportunity to appear and be heard.

SHOP RIGHT - A royalty-free, non-exclusive, and non-assignable license to practice an invention, usually regarding an invention created by an employee who used the employer's resources or facilities.

SOUND RECORDING - Copyright works that result from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds, but not including the sounds accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as disks, tapes, or other phonorecords, in which they are embodied. 17 U.S.C. § 101.

SPECIAL CONTRACT - A contract under seal; a specialty; as distinguished from one merely oral or in writing not sealed.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

SPECIAL WARRANTY DEED - A special warranty deed is a deed transferring title from one person known as the grantor to another person known as the grantee.  It does not contain the blanket covenants and warranties found in a warranty deed.  It is a special warranty that the grantor covenants to warrant and defend the title against all claims and demands arising through and under the grantor, but no others.  It is sometimes referred to as a quit claim deed.

SPECIFICATION - In patent, the written description of an invention typically including background information and a detailed explanation of the invention with reference to the numbered figures.

SPECIMEN - A sample of a mark as actually applied, affixed or attached to the goods or services or their containers or displays associated therewith or placed on tags or labels attached to the goods or containers.

SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE - Money paid by one spouse for the support and maintenance of the other spouse, sometimes called alimony.

STATUTES - Laws passed by the legislature of each state.

STATUTORY - Relating to a statute or required by a statute.

STOCK - The stock for a corporation includes any equity, securities, or instruments that are issued by the corporation.  This is exclusive of any bonds or debentures.  Bonds or debentures usually reflect debt rather than stock or equity ownership.  Stock is generally evidenced by some written document that demonstrates the ownership in a corporation.  It generally identifies the company, the name of the stockholder, the class and/or series, and, many times, the value of the stock.

STOCK CERTIFICATE - A stock certificate is the document that evidences stock ownership in a corporation.  A stock certificate will generally indicate the state in which the certificate has been issued, the date of issue, the amount of par value, and the number of shares that the certificate represents.  It denotes ownership in a company and is evidence of that ownership.  Generally, it is signed and dated by the president and secretary of the corporation.

SUBCONTRACT - A contract subordinate to another contract, made or intended to be made between the contracting parties, on the one part, or some of them, and a third party (i.e. subcontractor).  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

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TEMPORARY HEARING - A court hearing scheduled by either party, asking a judge to issue an order while the divorce case is pending.

TENANCY BY THE ENTIRETY - A tenancy by the entirety is created by a conveyance to husband and wife, whereupon each becomes seized and possessed of the entire estate and after the death of one the survivor takes the whole.

TENANCY IN COMMON - A tenancy in common is a form of ownership of title to real estate by two or more persons in which, although they have a unity of possession, they each have separate and distinct titles.  In the event that one of the tenants in common dies, his or her title passes not to the other tenant in common but to his or her estate or heirs.

TERM - In intellectual property, the duration of time of which a patent, trademark or copyright is effective.

TERMINAL DISCLAIMER - A written document that disclaims a portion of the term of an intellectual property right to the public.

TESTATOR - A testator is one who makes or has made a will, or one who dies leaving a will.

TITLE - Title means ownership of real estate.  Good or clear title means such ownership of real estate is free and clear of the claims of others.  Clouded title means such ownership is marred by some claim or demand of another person that hinders or impedes the ability of the owner of the real estate to transfer title.  Ownership of real estate is a right to use, enjoy and transfer the real estate as allowed by the laws of the particular state.

TRADE DRESS - The total image of a product, particularly the nonfunctional ornamental features that indicate the origin of the product.

TRADEMARK - Any word, symbol or device, or combination thereof, that is used to identify and distinguish a person's goods from goods manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of those goods, even if that source is unknown. 15 U.S.C. § 1127.

TRADEMARK PROSECUTION - The process for registering a trademark with a governmental trademark office.

TRADEMARK RULES - The rules of practice in trademark cases, 37 C.F.R. § 2.1 et seq.

TRADE NAME - A trade name is the name that may be used by a company to identify the company business.  Many times the trade name epitomizes the reputation of the business.  A name used in commerce by a business, regardless of whether the name used is also the legal name of the business.

TRADE SECRET - Information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process that (i) derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known or readily ascertainable, and (ii) is the subject of reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy.

TRANSACTION - A transaction is an act of conducting business between a corporation or persons for which generally there is some form of documentation.

TREASURER - A treasurer of a corporation is the individual who maintains the books of account and financial records of the corporation.  The treasurer is generally in charge of making appropriate deposits and seeing that withdrawals are made according to the company resolutions and/or bank resolutions.

TREASURY STOCK - Treasury stock is generally stock that had been issued as fully paid to stockholders and, subsequently, reacquired by the corporation.

TRIP - Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (T.R.I.P.s) - A portion of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (G.A.T.T.) Agreement added through the Uruguay Round Agreements Act and entered into force in the U.S. on January 1, 1996.

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UCC - Universal Copyright Convention (U.C.C.) - An international copyright treaty that provides minimum levels of copyright protection.

UNCONSCIONABLE CONTRACT - A contract that no sensible man not under delusion, duress, or in distress would make, and such as no honest and fair man would accept.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

UNENFORCEABLE CONTRACT - An unenforceable contract is one for the breach of which neither the remedy of damages nor the remedy of specific performance is available, but which is recognized in some other way as creating a duty of performance, though there has been no ratification.  Restatement of Contract, Second, Section 8.  When a contract has some legal consequences that may not be enforced  in an action for damages or specific performance in the face of certain defenses, such as the statute of fraud or the statute of limitations, the contract is said to be "unenforceable."

UNIFIED CREDIT - A credit against the federal Unified Transfer Tax, replacing the former lifetime gift tax exemption and the estate tax exemption.

UNILATERAL CONTRACT - A unilateral contract is one in which one party makes an express engagement or undertakes a performance without receiving in return any express engagement or promise of performance from the other.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

USPTO - The United States Patent and Trademark Office, established under the Department of Commerce for administrating issues relating to the granting of patents and the registration of trademarks.

USUFRUCT - In the civil law.  The pledging of one thing for another.  The right of enjoying a thing, the property of which is vested in another, and to draw from the same all the profit, utility, and advantage that it may produce, provided it be without altering the substance of the thing.  Under old civil law, usufruct included human servitude in exchange for certain benefits, privileges, payments, etc.

UTILITY PATENT - The most common type of patent, dealing with new and useful processes, machines, manufactures, or compositions of matter. 35 U.S.C. § 101.

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VENUE - The legally correct place where a particular case should be filed.

VICE PRESIDENT - The vice president most generally acts in the absence of the president; however, there may be special duties or functions set forth in the bylaws relative to the specific circumstances under which a vice president must act.

VISITATION - The legal right to spend time with a child on a regularly scheduled basis.

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WARRANTY DEED - A warranty deed is a deed that warrants good and clear title to the real estate transferred.  It often includes some or all of the following: warranties including seisin, quiet enjoyment, right to convey, freedom from encumbrances, and defense of title against all claims.

WORK MADE FOR HIRE - In copyright, (1) a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment; or (2) a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional. text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire. 17 U.S.C. § 101.

WRITTEN CONTRACT - A written contract is one in which all of its terms are in writing.  It is commonly referred to as a formal contract.  From Black's Law Dictionary, 1990 edition.

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This is not a substitute for legal advice.  An attorney must be consulted.