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  1. #1
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    "require" or "authorize"

    Some observers said Microsoft's only recourse is to threaten lawsuits because
    copyright and trademark laws require companies to do everything within their
    legal rights to defend their trademarks and trade secrets.

    In Collins COBUILD, I see "if a law requires you to do something, you have to
    do it". According to this explanation, "require" does not seem to fit the
    sentence here. It seems to me that "...laws require companies to do something"
    suggest that "laws force companies to do something". But "defend their
    trademarks and trade secrets" is companies' own business--they can choose to
    defend or not, how come a law "require" them to do so? Do you think "authorize"
    is a better word to replace "require" here?

    I know my question may be weird. The sentence is written by a native speaker.
    As an ESL learner, I don't dare say "it's wrong". I just want to fully
    understand "require" here and learn this new usage of "require".
    Sorry, my question seems too long.
    Thank you very much.

  2. #2
    RonBee's Avatar
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    If Microsoft does not defend its trademarks and trade secrets it will lose them. It is in that sense that it is required to defend them. It is not legally obligated to do so. You cannot substitute authorize for require in this case. (To authorize something and to require it are two different things.)

    :)

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee
    You cannot substitute authorize for require in this case. (To authorize something and to require it are two different things.)
    Thanks, that was a quick respond. But I think "authorize" works fine in this sentence, although it does not mean the same thing as "require". You don't think so, do you?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe
    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee
    You cannot substitute authorize for require in this case. (To authorize something and to require it are two different things.)
    Thanks, that was a quick respond. But I think "authorize" works fine in this sentence, although it does not mean the same thing as "require". You don't think so, do you?
    No, I don't. To authorize something is to give someone permission to do it. I don't think Microsoft would be giving itself permission.

    :)

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    A law 'authorises' if it allows and 'requires' if it obliges.

  6. #6
    RonBee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    A law 'authorises' if it allows and 'requires' if it obliges.
    Exactly!

    :wink:

  7. #7
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe
    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee
    You cannot substitute authorize for require in this case. (To authorize something and to require it are two different things.)
    Thanks, that was a quick respond. But I think "authorize" works fine in this sentence, although it does not mean the same thing as "require". You don't think so, do you?
    I agree with Ron. In this case the law requires the company to defend its rights if it wants to retain those rights. If a company allows others to infringe on its rights without taking action, the courts will no longer recognize those rights.

  8. #8
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    Thanks, Teachers.
    I'd like to ask something about the sentence structure. Which of the following
    is the same as the original one?
    1). The laws require that companies do everything within their legal rights to
    defend their trademarks and trade secrets
    .( companies are defenders)
    2). The laws require companies to do everything within their legal rights, so
    that
    the law can defend their trademarks and trade secrets. (The law is the
    defender
    )
    And, without any context, can I just say," The law authorizes companies to
    defend their rights"?

    I'm sorry for asking so much.
    :)

  9. #9
    RonBee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe
    Thanks, Teachers.
    I'd like to ask something about the sentence structure. Which of the following
    is the same as the original one?
    1). The laws require that companies do everything within their legal rights to
    defend their trademarks and trade secrets
    .( companies are defenders)
    2). The laws require companies to do everything within their legal rights, so
    that
    the law can defend their trademarks and trade secrets. (The law is the
    defender
    )
    And, without any context, can I just say," The law authorizes companies to defend their rights"?
    I'm sorry for asking so much.
    :)
    To the first question: no, not exactly. If the law requires you to do something that means you are obligated to do it. Microsoft is required to defend its trademark only if it wants to protect it.

    To the second question: again, they are not legally obligated to do anything. Also, that sentence is rather awkward, and it is inaccurate.

    To the third question: yes, that would be a true statement.

    :)

    ~RonBee

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