There are various ways to protect your intellectual property rights. First, you can register a copyright. Second, you may register a trademark or service mark. Third, you may register a patent. Copyrights are meant to protect literature, music, motion pictures, artistic works, photographs, essays, articles, computer programs, graphic design, and sound recordings. A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design, or a combination of any of them that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. A service mark is the same as a trademark but it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service. A patent grants a property right to the inventor. It grants the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention or importing the invention into the United States. In general, patents are valid for 20 years from the application date.
So, in summary, trademarks, service marks, copyrights, and patents protect different types of intellectual property. Trademarks protect brand names and logos used on goods and services. A copyright protects an original artistic or literary work. A patent protects inventions. For example, if you invent a television, you should file a patent application. You would apply to register a trademark to protect the television’s brand name. You can also register a copyright for the product’s advertisement.
There have been multiple intellectual property disputes especially between e-commerce websites. For example, there was a legal battle between Amazon and Barnes & Noble regarding the “single click” or “one-click” buying mechanism. This legal action was confidentially settled between the parties. Google has been sued by multiple companies for selling their trademarks as keywords. In fact, American Airlines and Geico have instigated legal actions against it. Also, the infamous “Da Vinci Code” lawsuit was brought by several authors against the Random House Group claiming copyright infringement. The case was about an alleged copyright violation by Dan Brown who wrote the bestselling “Da Vinci Code” book. However, the court dismissed the case and stated that there was no copyright infringement by textual or non-textual copying of a substantial part of the subject book.
There have been legal issues related to online content distribution due to a significant amount of illegal distribution of intellectual-property protected arts, photos, music, films, or software. Therefore, e-commerce websites should clearly identify the ownership of their content. Their users must be properly informed about what they can do with the content. E-commerce websites should prevent their employees from accessing or possessing unauthorized copies of software. This will hopefully promote the proper use of intellectual properties by employees. There are a number of technological tools that can be used to protect internet content. For example, some organizations are using watermarks, encryption, or identifying/tracking systems.
What does one do when facing an intellectual property violation? The first step is to gather the evidence that proves the violation. The second step is to identify and locate the infringing party. In some cases, the infringing party can be easily identified but in some cases it’s complicated because the infringing party is using an anonymous profile or resides in a different country. The third step is to determine the proper jurisdiction and choice of law issues. In other words, you should determine where to file the lawsuit and which laws should be applied in the legal action.
It’s important to know your legal rights and responsibilities when it comes to intellectual property laws. Please contact our law firm to speak with a knowledgeable intellectual property attorney at your convenience.