International Intellectual Property Legal Blog

Does copyright law protect web page content?

Whether your business focuses on local clientele or has an international reach, chances are you have a company website that provides information on your products and services. Your site may also contain unique content, such as blog posts, whitepapers or news articles. Protecting the rights to your digital content may seem more difficult than invoking copyright protection for traditional printed materials. However, United States law makes it clear that copyright protections apply to web page content as well as printed media.

A FindLaw article states that the digital content on a website generally has the same type of copyright protection as original printed material, such as books, songs or news stories. According to the article, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 explicitly states that digital materials published on the internet enjoy copyright protection. As such, your company likely owns the copyright to the text, pictures, videos and other content on your website. Legally, others must get your permission before copying the content and posting it elsewhere.

Minimizing the impact of a business dispute on your company

Learning of a business dispute that is happening in your company can be highly disconcerting. Depending on the severity of the dispute, who it involves and what it is about, such disagreements can have a debilitating effect on organizational processes that ultimately affect productivity and success. At Bilicki Law, we have been able to help concerned business owners in New York to solve issues within their organization. 

One of the biggest challenges of operating a business is creating an environment where people can work well together. This requires you to implement policies designed to promote tolerance, as well as responsibility and professionalism in accomplishing business objectives. Your efforts can help to reduce conflict before it even begins. However, in the situations where a dispute does arise, the sooner you can detect it, intervene and provide a solution, the more effective you will be at minimizing its impact. 

Strengthening a claim of trademark violation

Having a trademark can add a level of protection to your intellectual property that could prove invaluable in the future. Your images, phrases, slogans or designs could all benefit from trademark protection, but the protection does not necessarily mean that others will not attempt to use your images or phrases.

Trademark infringement is a serious issue, and if another person or entity attempts to infringe on your trademark, you may have to take steps to enforce the protection you obtained for your intellectual property. Otherwise, your business could face harm due to another person's actions.

How can you minimize the exposure of confidential information?

Keeping important information from getting into the wrong hands is imperative to your company's protection and success. While you can monitor who has access to confidential information in order to minimize their exposure, it is also important for your company, especially if you have an International presence, to implement protocols designed to keep your most sensitive information private. 

Being aware of the steps that can be taken to more effectively protect trade secrets and other valuable information is only the beginning of keeping your company safe. Once protocols are in place, they should be regularly analyzed to determine that they are working optimally. Frequent analysis can help you identify areas where additional support is necessary to prevent loopholes from creating hazards. 

What are the most frequently asked questions about trade secrets?

As a business owner or inventor, you may have a lot of questions about trade secrets. Trade secrets refer to the data you prefer to keep hidden from competitors and even some employees. These secrets provide your business with a competitive edge that may be destroyed if it got into the wrong hands.

Forbes notes that the closest cousin of trade secrets in law is patent law. When people file a patent, it becomes public information in exchange for the protection. In contrast, most business people do not mean for trade secrets to ever see the light of day. Here are some commonly asked questions regarding this and their answers.

IP strategies are sometimes tax-motivated

In 2013, Uber grew from a $330 million company to a worth of $3.5 billion due to venture capital investments. However, before pursuing the additional funding, Uber’s co-founder decided to do some tax-planning. According to Fortune, the ridesharing company created a new business in the Netherlands known as Uber International C.V., which essentially moved the company’s intellectual property overseas.

U.S.-based Uber then created an agreement to split profits in half. Thus, when venture capitals sped up Uber’s growth process, it could legally avoid paying taxes on almost all of its non-U.S. rideshare income. Fortune reports that Google and Facebook employed similar strategies for similar reasons. In fact, American companies often find it easier to move their IPs overseas than relocating a physical subsidiary. For tech companies, where so much of their core business takes place online, there is hardly ever a need to attempt a physical move.

How not to accidentally invite intellectual property litigation

The common advice for companies that want to avoid intellectual property litigation is simply not to steal or appropriate another entity’s IP. However, there is one major problem with this advice; it is one-sided. What happens when the business owner is the one who gets their idea stolen? Or, what happens when an entrepreneur gets sued for creating and capitalizing on technology that bears a close but accidental resemblance to someone else’s?

Business News Daily notes that entrepreneurs often do not give enough thought to intellectual property rights. Because of this, they are often taken aback by the large expense these types of litigation can present for a company, especially a small one with fewer resources to draw from. When protecting IP, the first step is identifying what counts as IP and then utilizing the following tools where applicable:

  •          Trade secrets
  •          Trademarks
  •          Copyrights
  •          Patents

How inventors go from patent to licensing agreement

Filing a patent in America is easier and less expensive than it is in most other countries. However, it is neither easy nor cheap. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has several guidelines in place that inventors must follow or their claims will be rejected time and time again. One of the major criteria patents must satisfy is novelty. An idea must be new to be accepted. Commercial use of the idea, public disclosures and even articles may undermine the ability to patent an idea.

Another key contributor to success is the temperament of an inventor’s allies. Filing a patent is not a submit-it-and-forget-it system. It may require frequent follow-ups and tweaks, which tacks on time and money. This makes it especially important to work with professionals that are patient and can handle high-stress situations as well as high levels of uncertainty.

Are you unsure whether someone infringed upon your patent?

If your business relies on products that you developed, you undoubtedly took measures to protect them. After applying for and receiving patents, you expected your products to remain protected.

However, protecting your patents often hinges on you paying attention to what goes on in the marketplace. Your patent may not keep people from "copying" your designs, but it does give you legal avenues for relief if it happens. The first hurdle you may need to overcome is whether someone actually did infringe upon your patent.

This is the biggest risks for a company’s trade secrets

The most successful companies all across the globe have one main thing in common; they have secrets. In business, people refer to this as proprietary information. While there are other secrets companies may hang on to that could prove detrimental if released, perhaps none holds greater value than the company’s trade secrets. This may range from recipes to software algorithms and product designs.

In the information age, it is now increasingly difficult for companies and even governments to preserve their privacy. One 2015, CNN article shared a wide range of instances where hackers broke into top-secret systems, not to look for credit card information or to steal money, but to extract and then publish sensitive information.

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