The Internet has effectively become an integral part of everyday life. In turn, as the Internet has evolved a variety of new legal issues have arisen, many of which involve intellectual property (“IP”) rights. For example, disputes often arise over who has the right to own a domain name which in many cases involve trademark considerations. Other common types of Internet-related IP issues involve advertising and other content found on corporate websites, personal websites, social media sites, and on “Apps” for mobile devices.
Domain Name Disputes
There are various rules governing the use and registration of domain names, with the primary authority being the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). One of the most common areas of conflict involving domain names is the practice of cybersquatting, or “bad faith” purchasing of a domain name with the same name as that of a company’s trademark — in order to make money by selling the domain name back to the rightful company. Each case is unique, and not all cases that would initially appear wrongful will ultimately qualify as cybersquatting.
There are two main procedures for addressing unauthorized, bad faith registration of a domain name. The first is a cybersquatting lawsuit under the Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA), which is somewhat complex but can provide substantial remedies including damages and attorney fees. The second is a Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP), which is an arbitration before the Internet governing bodies that focuses on registration and ownership rights. Our firm’s attorneys have experience representing both petitioners and defendants in domain name disputes. Example case handled by our firm: Floridagators.com
Brand Protection Against Trademark Infringement and Counterfeits
Just as the Internet has provided a new means of presenting one’s brand to large numbers of consumers, it has also made trademark infringement, counterfeit sales, and false advertising easier to accomplish on a wider scale than ever. Accordingly, brand enforcement against unauthorized online activity includes a variety of special considerations, and it can involve special procedures such as utilizing certain channels directly offered by service providers, as a first option, rather than the courts.
Unauthorized Use of Content
Given the multitude of creative works available online, including photos, graphics, writings, sound recording, databases, etc., which are especially prevalent with interactive web sites hosted by “service providers,” legal issues can sometimes arise over the rights to such content, such as permissions to access, permissions to display, ownership rights, etc. In this context, intellectual property implications can include, among other topics:
- Copyright Infringement
- Copyright Counterfeits
- Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”)
- Terms of Service / Software Licenses
- Data Security and Privacy Compliance
Our attorneys have extensive experience in advising clients on the intellectual property law aspects of these kinds of issues.