The Internet or World Wide Web has opened the doors to E-Business, or the ability to conduct business online. This has opened the doors for many businesses to expand their product and make them available to the entire world. This has facilitated rapid growth in these sectors that choose to take the opportunities; however, this expansion is not without complications. With this expansion, each company is in a position whereas their valuable intellectual property is in a potential security risk. Although the legal system has struggled tirelessly to deal with these threats by passing new laws, new threats have always emerged. While trademarks, patents, and copyrights are important legal barriers for protection of certain properties, companies are still responsible for keeping up with ensuring are not violating their rights. While protecting their rights, they are also responsible for making sure they do violate the rights of others in the process.
Identify the legal business issues raised in the article.
The article (Why Does E-Business Need IP?) gives the reader insight into trademark issues in relation to domain names, known as website addresses. Cyber squatters register their domain names either exact or very similar to the names of trademarked or well-known companies. They attempt to sell the names or use them for illegal means with an aim of making profit. Copyright laws and how they relate to E-Business is also discussed within the article.
Discuss how the legal issues affect business. Could the problems have been avoided? Explain. Discuss realistic solutions supported by sound legal and business principles.
Cyber squatters are individuals online who register domain names (website addresses) that are the same, or similar to the name of established companies. They do this with the illegal intention of selling the domain name for profit, or use it in an already established website they own hence increasing site traffic. Increased traffic means increased profits through advertising. Often times, the cyber squatters can register a domain name before a company can trademark; they do this as an advantage over the newly trademarked company. When a new company wants to enter into e-business, their name is everything. However, their name is already a registered domain. To get the name, they have to buy it from a cyber squatter, and often times it is not cheap. This situation could be preventable if a company were to buy the domain name when the business is born. Formation of a business and its registration making it a corporation, partnership or a limited company requires purchase of purchase of domain name/s.
The development of Internet made many companies to believe that it would be a good business application and therefore, they did not register domain named. Cyber-theft was born, and business names sold as fast as they could get a hold of them. When the potential of E-commerce was noticeable, the companies had to pay large sums of money to get their own-trademarked name. Seeing this, U.S. Congress enacted the Anti-Cyber squatting Consumer Protection Act (ACCPA). With the new act, companies obtained legal rights to their domain name. This is regardless of whether the trademark was bought for purpose of making profit through selling it.
In recent years, copyright infringement has become an all too familiar incident for people and businesses alike involved in E-Commerce. Music industry is one of the business areas that are faced with copyright infringement. Websites like Napster and Limewire allow people to upload and download music freely. This is a major copyright violation. Copyright laws are in place to protect websites, songs, lyrics, and their sales. Napster lost its battle in court and was shut down for copyright infringement laws. While Napster lost the battle, the problem with the Internet has shown that as soon as one site shuts down, another one opens to fill the void. New laws have made it possible for agencies to charge people who download from these sites with copyright infringement. While they will not be able to catch everyone, getting some of the violators has help spread fear of breaking the law.
The best thing that companies can do to solve this problem is to file with the United States Copyright office. Filing a copyright and establishing a legal ownership gives a company or individual a legal leg to stand on to protect what they rightfully own. While they have this protection in court, they also have protection for 70 years after the owner’s death.