A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
pain and suffering
The physical or emotional distress resulting from an injury. Though the concept is somewhat abstract, the injured plaintiff can seek compensation in the form of cold, hard cash. How much the defendant owes for pain and suffering is calculated separately from the amount owing for more direct expenses, such as medical bills or time lost from work -- although sometimes these are factored in to arrive at a logical figure.
palimony
A non-legal term coined by journalists to describe the division of property or alimony-like support given by one member of an unmarried couple to the other after they break up.
par value
The face value of a stock, assigned by a corporation at the time the stock is issued. The par value is often printed on the stock certificate, but the market value of the stock may be much more or much less than par.
paralegal
A person who does legal work but who is not licensed to practice law or dispense legal advice. Independent paralegals (those who work directly with the public, not for lawyers) assist their customers by providing forms, helping people fill them out correctly and filing them with the proper court.
partnership
When used without a qualifier such as "limited" or "limited liability," usually refers to a legal structure called a general partnership. This is a business owned by two or more people (called partners or general partners) who are personally liable for all business debts. To form a partnership, each partner normally contributes money, valuable property or labor in exchange for a partnership share, which reflects the amount contributed. Partnerships are easy to form since no registration is required with any governmental agency to create a partnership (although tax registration and other requirements to conduct business may still apply). Although not required, it is an excellent idea to prepare a written partnership agreement between the partners to define items such as ownership percentages, how profits and losses will be divided and what happens if a partner dies or becomes disabled. Partnerships themselves do not pay federal or state income taxes; rather, profits are passed through to partners who report and pay income taxes on their personal returns. See also limited partnership; limited liability partnership.
party
A person, corporation or other legal entity that files a lawsuit (the plaintiff or petitioner) or defends against one (the defendant or respondent).
patent
A legal monopoly, granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), for the use, manufacture and sale of an invention. Patents on useful devices, called utility patents, last for 20 years from the date the patent application was filed. Design patents last for 14 years from the date issued. And plant patents last for 17 years from the date issued.
Patent and Trademark Office (PTO)
An administrative branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce charged with overseeing and implementing the federal laws of patent and trademark.This agency is responsible for examining and issuing all patents and trademarks in the United States.
patent claim
A statement included in a patent application that describes the structure of an invention in precise and exact terms, using a long established formal style and precise terminology. Patent claims serve as a way for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to determine whether an invention is patentable, and as a way for a court to determine whether a patent has been infringed. In concept, a patent claim marks the boundaries of the patent in the same way as the legal description in a deed specifies the boundaries of the property.
patent deed
The official document sent to an inventor by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) when that office has issued a patent for the inventor's creation.
patent drawing
Visual representations of an invention that are included in a patent application. Patent drawings must be included in the application unless the nature of the invention precludes such them, as would be the case with the formula for a new substance. Patent drawings should show all the features of the invention described in the application, including those features that distinguish it from prior art.
patent pending
The status of an invention between the time when:a utility patent application has been filed and when it is issued or rejected, or a provisional patent application has been submitted and when a subsequent patent application (filed within one year) is issued or rejected. Inventors often mark their devices "patent pending" to deter competitors from copying the idea or claim it as their own.
patent search
A search for documents that will determine whether a particular invention was novel and nonobvious when it was invented, and hence whether it may qualify for a patent. A patent search usually begins with a database of previously issued patents, and also covers other types of documents, such as journal articles and scientific papers, that describe unpatented inventions.
paternity suit
A lawsuit to determine the identity of the father of a child born outside of marriage, and to provide for the support of the child once the identity of the father has been determined.
pay-on-death (POD) designation
A way to avoid probate for bank accounts, government bonds, individual retirement accounts and, in many states, securities or a car. To create a pay-on-death designation, you simply name someone on the ownership document (such as the registration card for a bank account) to inherit the property at your death. You retain complete control of your property while you are alive, and you can change the beneficiary (payee) at any time. At your death, the property is transferred directly to the beneficiary, free of probate.