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Typing (Yes, Typing) Tips in Intellectual Property Law

Here are a few quick tips on typing IP-related characters in Microsoft Word and Outlook, and a tip on pasting that is not IP-specific but is worth knowing.

An Easier Way to Type a Typographically Correct Apostrophe

When a word or number is shortened by leaving off one or more characters, the correct punctuation mark to use is an apostrophe (’), which is properly curved with its concave side facing left. Here are a few examples:

  • Summer of ’20
  • ’123 patent
  • can’t

Unfortunately, when you type a leading apostrophe, Word and Outlook convert the [’] that you may have intended into a single left quotation mark [‘], which curves to the right. Shortened patent numbers often appear in formal documents with a left single quote in place of the apostrophe: for example, ‘123 patent instead of ’123 patent. In ‘123 patent, the apostrophe is backwards.

Writers differ on whether this issue is worth addressing; courts and observers of style guides tend to use an apostrophe, not a right-facing single quote. Some writers probably prefer the left-facing apostrophe, yet tolerate the right-facing single quote because of the hassle involved in typing the apostrophe:

(a) type left and right single quotes (‘’), then delete the leftmost, right-facing single quote; or, even worse,

(b) click the Insert tab on the Word Ribbon, then click Symbol, then click More Symbols, then scroll down to the apostrophe and click it.

There is an easier way: typing [Ctrl] plus a quick double-tap on the single-quote key yields a true, left-facing apostrophe like this one: ’.

Pasting from More Than Just Your Most Recent Copied or Cut Item

Sometimes you want to copy and paste multiple selections of text and/or graphics. Windows 10 offers a “clipboard history” that gives you the ability to paste not only your most recently copied or cut clipboard item, but any of your recent clipboard items. This can be very handy if you want to copy and paste two or more non-consecutive sections of text (or images) from a first document into a second document. First you copy both sections of text in the first document; then you can paste both sections of text from your clipboard history into the second document, instead of going back and forth between documents.

To access the clipboard history, first copy both sections of the desired text (or images). Then, instead of using the paste button on the Ribbon or typing [Ctrl]-v as you would for a standard paste, use the Windows key, which is placed between [Ctrl] and [Alt] on most keyboards. By typing [Windows]-v, you will obtain a list of your recent clipboard items, also known as your “clipboard history,” from which you may select a clipboard item for pasting.

Security note: Your clipboard history must be enabled the first time you attempt to use it, and it does potentially pose a level of security risk, especially on shared computers, if a user copies or cuts information that should not been seen by other users. Therefore, I suggest that you research and understand the potential security risk before you begin using the clipboard history.

Typing (and Not Typing) Copyright and Registration Symbols

Microsoft Word and Outlook automatically substitute © when you type (c) or (C). This is useful when you need to type a copyright symbol (©). Unfortunately, even if you work in IP, I expect that you rarely need or want to type a copyright symbol, even when you are writing about copyrights. Instead, the substitution of © for (c) is an annoying interruption when you are typing a list or a statutory citation and just want the (c) that you typed, not a copyright symbol. To remove an unwanted © on the fly, press [Backspace] immediately after your type (c) or (C), before pressing the space bar, and the © will transform back into (c) or (C). Sadly, if you type a space or any other character after the unwanted © before you press [Backspace], pressing [Backspace] twice will delete the ©, possibly causing your head to explode.

Two other IP-related substitutions that work the same way as © are substitution of the trademark registration symbol ® for (r) or (R), and substitution of the trademark designation ™ for ™ or (TM). These are less troubling, as you won’t want to type (r) or ™ nearly as often as (c). In any event, pressing backspace immediately after the second parenthesis will change the substituted character back to the characters you typed, and pressing any key other than backspace will lock in the substitution.

If you prefer that any of these substitutions not be made in the first place, you can select Word’s Options, then Proofing, then AutoCorrect Options. You will then be able to stop Word from making selected substitutions. Another good candidate for removal from your AutoCorrect Options may be the automatic substitution of € for (e). If you are sufficiently determined, you can also change the AutoCorrect options in Outlook for typing your e-mails—select File, then Options, then Mail, then Editor Options, then Proofing, then AutoCorrect Options, then (at last) the unwanted correction. That’s seven selections, for those keeping score. But it could be worth it to never have to fix an unwanted © again.

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