U.S. Copyright Office
See Copyright Office.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
See Patent and Trademark Office.
ultra vires
Latin for "beyond powers." It refers to conduct by a corporation or its officers that exceeds the powers granted by law.
unclean hands
A legal doctrine that prevents a plaintiff who has acted unethically in relation to a lawsuit from winning the suit or from recovering as much money as she would have if she had behaved honorably. For example, if a contractor is suing a homeowner to recover the price of work he did on the home, his failure to perform the work as specified would leave him with unclean hands.
A seller's taking advantage of a buyer due to their unequal bargaining positions, perhaps because of the buyer's recent trauma, physical infirmity, ignorance, inability to read or inability to understand the language. The unfairness must be so severe that it is shocking to the average person. It usually includes the absence of any meaningful choice on the part of the buyer and contract terms so one-sided that they unreasonably favor the seller. A contract will be terminated if the buyer can prove unconscionability.
uncontested divorce
A divorce automatically granted by a court when the spouse who is served with a summons and complaint for divorce fails to file a formal response with the court. Many divorces proceed this way when the spouses have worked everything out and there's no reason for both to go to court -- and pay the court costs.
A situation in which a company does not have enough cash available to carry on its business.
Another term for an insurer, one who assumes the risk of another's loss and compensates for the loss under the terms of an insurance policy.
undue hardship
The circumstances in which a debtor may discharge a student loan in bankruptcy. For example, a debtor who has no income and little chance of earning enough in the future to pay off the loan may be able to show that repayment would be an undue hardship.
unemployment insurance (UI)
A program run jointly by federal and state governments that provides money benefits for a specified time -- usually 26 weeks -- after you've been laid off from a job. The amount of your unemployment check will be less than your former pay. Also called unemployment compensation, UI covers most employees, provided that they worked at least six months during the year prior to losing the job and earned the minimum amount of money required under the program's regulations.
unfair competition
An overarching term describing any commercial activity that tends to confuse or deceive the public about the sale of products or services. It covers such diverse activities as trademark infringement, false advertising and theft of trade secrets. If a court finds that an activity constitutes unfair competition, it will generally prevent that activity from occurring in the future and award money damages to the person or company harmed by the activity.
Uniform Gifts to Minors Act
See Uniform Transfers to Minors Act.
Uniform Resource Locator (URL)
The Internet address of a Web page, file or other online resource. URLs usually contain a domain name and a description of the material sought. For example, http://www.nolo.com/patents.html is the URL for an article on patents on Nolo's website.
Uniform Transfer-on-Death Security Act
A statute that allows people to name a beneficiary to inherit stocks or bonds without probate. The owner of the securities can register them with a broker using a simple form that names a person to receive the property after the owner's death. Every state but Texas has adopted the statute.
Uniform Transfers to Minors Act
A statute, adopted by almost all states, that provides a method for transferring property to minors and arranging for an adult to manage it until the child is old enough to receive it. See custodian.