Intellectual property claims have become common on the Internet. Such claims can include Web Site Development Issues; Domain Name Disputes; Trademark Issues; and Web Page Linking and Legal Liabilities.
When creating a website, the following issues may arise:
Copyright issues: Copyright infringement can occur when creating a web site if the content of the website violates one of the six exclusive rights given to copyright owners under the Copyright Act:
- to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;
- to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
- to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
- in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;
- in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and
- in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.
Domain name issues: Domain names function as the address for a website, and disputes over domain names have become more common. It is a common mistake by website designers and developers to consider the domain name registration as “superior” to a trademark registration, when in fact it is not. Before selecting, obtaining, protecting and/or reclaiming a domain name, it may be wise to perform a trademark search to verify that the chosen domain name is available for Federal Trademark Registration, thus reducing the probability of it infringing on another party’s trademark rights.
Trademark issues: Websites can contain descriptions of products or services. Website designers and developers must be aware of potential trademark issues arising from the use of a word, image, or slogan designed to identify the goods or services of a third party.The terms, “confusingly similar” or “likelihood of confusion” both refer to the standard required to prove infringement of a trademark. Specifically, if the relevant consuming public will likely be confused or mistaken about the source of a product or service sold using the mark in question, then likelihood of confusion exists, and the mark has been infringed.