Most people own some forms of personal property such as jewelry, furniture, and some even own and real estate. If you’re in business, you also have intellectual property. This field of law includes patents, copyrights, trademarks, even your web site name and its content. While intellectual property (IP) law used to be fairly straight forward, the Internet has opened up a whole new world of challenges. You need to know how to protect those IP assets, and you can, but you’ll need to do some due diligence on your own, and it is highly advised to hire a good intellectual property lawyer.
This specialist in protecting intangible assets such as music, artistic works, discoveries, words, phrases, symbols, industrial design, and the like can guide you through the critically important process of donning your legal armor before you expose any of your intellectual property on the world-wide web.
The first recorded use of the term intellectual property was in the 19th century. In today’s global economy, copyright lawyers, legislators, business people and consumers have all been challenged to craft and learn about what trademark or copyright infringement really means when online content can be readily copied by anyone with Internet access. First and foremost, registering and protecting your Internet domain name, which is the foundation for your website, is a critical element in protecting your online intellectual property.
Registration is accomplished by paying an annual fee for the exclusive use of your domain name to a certified registrar (a company that is accredited by the ICANN, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, to perform this function). Your IP lawyer will guide you through this process, which will include a search to make sure your intended name is not already in use. As well, your registrar may work with you on suggestions for names, based on the keywords you give them. This would be especially helpful if you discover that your first choice has already been taken. Rest assured, even with the rapid expansion of the Internet, there is a litigation process for domain name disputes.
Since your name is a significant portion of your online branding, advertising and in making sure search engines pull your website right up when a potential customer is looking for your product, it is vital to keep that registration current.
It is also important to nail down the ownership of your domain name. Although it may seem easier to let your webmaster handle registration and hosting your site, domain name law is a tricky business as well, so get your your IP lawyer engaged to guide you through this process as well. All too often, unsuspecting business owners find out, too late, that the webmaster has control over their domain, and it’s important to know what can happen if you decide to make a change in who hosts or maintains your website, or if your webmaster retires.
Protecting web site content is a two way street. You may want to use product descriptions if you sell goods manufactured by another commercial concern. This is where the doctrine of “Fair Use” comes into play. Although acknowledging where the original content came from is accepted, it is safer to obtain explicit permission to use their product descriptions, photos, etc.
Conversely, it is wise for every business owner, musician, writer or artist to protect their content with software designed to monitor the Internet for violations, as well as copyright protection, which is provided to authors of original literary, dramatic or artistic works. The software is designed to notify you of infringements, but it is up to you to pursue legal channels, if you feel your business is being damaged by an offender.
Software programs are especially vulnerable to Internet pirates who can reverse engineer your product to create a very close approximation. In this arena, a patent is your protection. A patent, which is the granting of a property right to the inventor, is issued by the Patent & Trademark Office. It confers the right to exclude others from making, selling, using or importing your product. This, combined with your due diligence and pursuit of violators, is essential. Filing for a patent is a complicated process, so it is best to consult your attorney early in your project, even before the software is completed and ready for testing.
Another aspect of intellectual property control is the trademark or service mark. Its purpose is to mark a word, name, symbol, device or service to let the market place know where this protected element comes from and also to distinguish it from other similar offerings. Your trademark registration lawyer will advise you that a trademark acts somewhat like a “no trespassing” sign.
To complicate your task even further, the familiar alphabet soup filled with “Latinized” (that’s what our ABCs are called) domain names such as .com, .org, .gov, .edu and so forth, has been spiced up with non-Latin characters from other cultures. This means surfers whose native language uses alphabet characters quite different from ours have joined the party.
Of course, this not only makes your protection challenge steeper, it opens up a whole new world of technical challenges. Your best bet is to engage a really good intellectual property lawyer well versed in international law to help you meet all challenges successfully.
These days, any business owner who does not have a competent intellectual property attorney on speed dial is vulnerable to piracy on the world-wide web from sources that didn’t even exist a few years ago. It’s always better to spend a little for protection than to potentially lose it all when you least expect it.
NO SOPA PIPA
Image by Phototropy
The land of the free and …
Flickreens are also in danger
The internet is gearing up for a fight, several sites have pledged to go dark on January 18 in protest of SOPA and PIPA, the internet blacklist legislation currently making their way through Congress. Below is a list of confirmed sites joining in :
3.The entire Cheezburger Network
5.Hacktivist group, Anonymous
6.Red 5 Studios, developer of the Firefall MMO
7.Mojang.com and Popular MMO, Minecraft
9.Webmaster community Admin Forums
10.Web design company, Skytemple.com
11.Gaming site Video Game Generation
12.Right Angle Recording
13.All sites in Major League Gaming’s network
17.Gaming site, GOG.com
18.Hey It’s Free!
19.Harder Blogger Faster
23.Working It Out
27.Through the Eyes of a Pirate
35.A Much Better Way
36.[H]ard OCP Gaming Community
40.The Weekly Gripe
42.WordPress for Business Websites
43.Simply Fixed s
55.Purpose of Christmas
57.Emerald Angel Comics
58.Fairy Tail Episode
62.This is Xbox
67.Olivero Broadcasting Group
69.Red Dawn Movie News
73.Talking About Games
78.Doxie Lovers Club
79.Twitpic versions of their site.
80.Age of Coins
81.A Softer World
82.This Is Why Im Broke
84.Dance Top 40
87.The Ikids Blog
88.MMO Melting Pot
91.Geek Culture and the Joy of Tech comic
I will not be posting tomorrow. This is global, this is now.