Intellectual property issues often consume the bulk of an internet business’ time and abuse resources. Owners of copyrights and trademarks, in particular, can be extremely aggressive in protecting their rights. While understanding the basic concepts and laws making up the foundation of Intellectual Property law is necessary to fully grasp the legal risks facing your business, doing so will also streamline your abuse process and maximize the use of your staff in other areas.
Paramount among the laws and concepts is an understanding of how copyright laws affect on-line commerce and business. Unlike patents, and, for the most part, trademarks, items protected by copyright law are not often registered. As a result, you can not search a database or other source. Because the internet depends heavily on graphics and descriptive content, it can be quite easy to infringe another entity’s copyright interest, even if you – or your customer – may have done so inadvertently. To address aspects of this issue, Congress enacted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA. A description of the DMCA is linked on the right.
Other Intellectual Property concepts, including Trademark, Patent and Trade Secret, play a significant role. In particular, on-line businesses should be aware of how Trademark matters affect both their, and their customers, methods of doing business. On-line issues related to trademark infringement have not been as well litigated, or legislated, as those related to copyrights. As a result, the potential for liability may be greater. A discussion of these issues is linked on the right.