The next stage of development of the internet is going to turn intellectual property law on its ear. The essence of the internet is the transmission of ideas and expression on an individual level. The essence of intellectual property law is the protection of an individual’s ideas and expression. When viewed from this perspective, it is easy to see where those two worlds will collide.
Intellectual property law focuses on the protection of (1) trade secrets, (2) copyrights, (3) trademarks (or trade manes or trade dress), and (4) patents. Each subdivision of intellectual property law has its own elements, rules, and methodology. For instance trade secrets are ideas that derive value from their very secrecy. Copyrights, on the other hand, are the expression of an idea, which derives value from the uniqueness of that expression. There is one unique element which is common to each division of intellectual property: access to the information and expression.
Traditionally in an intellectual property lawsuit much of the efforts and attorneys fees are generated by attempting to prove that the alleged infringer or user of the intellectual property had access to the underlying idea, information or expression. The massive proliferation of ideas, information and expressions by individual internet users almost rendered that element moot. Potential infringers now have access to an unlimited amount of ideas, information, and expression of ideas simply by turning on the computer.
One would think that it would be much easier to initiate a lawsuit if another has taken and used intellectual property. There is an old adage which is strangely appropriate: God giveth with one hand, and taketh with the other. Translation: while the proliferation of information, ideas, and expression appears to solve the element of access, it makes another problematic. It is a basic tenet of intellectual property law that once something is in the public domain (and unprotected) then others are able to use and practice that idea or expression.
The question becomes, how to enjoy the benefits of expressing ideas and expression on the internet, without the potential pitfalls of having another find it and use or practice it? The answer: register you intellectual property through the Copyright Act, the Lanham Act (trademarks), and the Patent Act before you expose it to the public.
What is the next phase of development on the internet? Very soon individuals will be able to broadcast their version of movie, television shows, reality programming, etc. without having to turn to the production departments of studios of television channels. It will be massive instance access to a limitless amount of programming. The advent of technology allows everybody to film and edit with a videocam, and publish it to computers and even cell phones. What is to prevent a studio or television network from taking those ideas or expressions and turning it into their own programming? Nothing!
The only answer is to protect your intellectual property before it is placed into the public domain on the internet. Call us today for a FREE consultation.