Does the Internet Mean the Death of
By Nevin Shaffer
Ask any teen if it is ok to download a copy of a song from the
Internet for free. Chances are they will say, "If you can do it, it
must be ok!" Technology has always stressed existing laws. Now the
Internet is stressing and stretching intellectual property (IP) laws
but, in my opinion, this stress is good for intellectual property!
What other choice do you have to protect your
business? Unless you are willing to give up all hope, patents,
trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets are your best protection
against competitors and thieves. In a society of laws, such as these
United States and most of the relevant markets of the world, laws
set the limits of permissible competition and individual behavior.
Thus, no matter what technology is developed, the law is still the
law and, importantly, ignorance of the law is No Excuse! So while it
is far from settled and many violations of your legal rights may go
unpunished despite your best efforts to protect yourself, a proper
IP protection plan for your business is critical for long term
existence in today’s market.
What plan, you might ask, is a proper plan? A proper plan starts
with an IP asset analysis to identify what IP you have. Please know
that if you are in business you have IP! You have original works of
art and authorship (advertisements, software, songs), you have
words, symbols and slogans you use to identify and distinguish you
from your competitors (brands), you have things you have learned
about making your business a success that your competitors would
love to know (pricing policies, marketing strategies, customer
lists), and you may even have created useful, new and nonobvious
improvements to existing technology (chemical, mechanical,
electrical, software devices). Many of the protections for these
assets exist to a minimum degree upon creation. Maximum protection
for your most important IP assets, however, gives you maximum
protection against honest competitors and thieves alike. The type of
protection you can get from IP is the right to stop people from
copying your ads, using your brands, taking your customer list and
making, using or selling your inventions! Thus, once identified and
protected, your IP assets can give you the leverage you need to end
the inevitable conflicts that arise for successful businesses in
this Internet connected world.
So, if you ask me, the answer to the title question is No! I
believe that instead of killing IP, the Internet has made IP much
more important because it may be the only weapon you have to defend
your company from the travesties of the Internet itself!
Nevin is a licensed patent attorney and Florida Bar Certified
Intellectual Property Law Specialist and has been practicing
Intellectual Property law for over 28 years. You may contact Nevin
by phone at 850-934-4124 and/or email at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit his
This material is presented for general
informational purposes only and should not be considered a legal
opinion nor relied upon in lieu of specific legal advice.
Accordingly, readers who require legal services in connection with
their specific circumstances should consult an attorney competent in
the field of intellectual property.