Protecting Your Assets and Interests While Effectively Navigating Internet Law
Internet law, also known as “cyber law” or “computer law,” is a practice area that is as diverse and wide-ranging as the internet itself. It applies several traditional types of law, including intellectual property law, data privacy law, defamation law, and even contract law to an ever-evolving legal frontier. However, our traditional laws are not easily applicable to the internet and the new challenges it presents.
Issues of legal protection and compliance in both personal and business matters on the internet require the expertise of seasoned internet law attorneys who have a depth of knowledge in this area of law and stay abreast of the emerging legislation and case law relevant to the unique challenges of the internet to best serve their clients’ interests.
Experience, Resourcefulness, and Creativity Define Internet Law Success
At The Myers Law Group in Newport Beach, California, we help our clients understand and manage the effects their internet presence has on their intellectual property (IP).
In many jurisdictions, physical laws conflict with the laws of cyberspace. Judges are called upon to make rulings about taxation, privacy, copyright, and more based on geographical jurisdiction, and determine what laws apply to the dispute and whether jurisdiction can be exercised over a defendant based on a person’s physical residence, web server location, the location of a business, or whether a party has minimum contacts in a jurisdiction.
In many cases, the laws of several jurisdictions apply because commerce, communication, and intellectual property transactions cross many borders in the course of exchanges on the internet. Internet law is nebulous and case law in this area is still developing in many jurisdictions. However, with many precedents already set, our knowledgeable and experienced team can help you enforce internet laws to protect your IP and other business interests while limiting your liability.
Internet Law Encapsulates the Following Legal Issues:
Like any other form of marketing, the internet is a vehicle by which people can and do put forth false and misleading statements regarding competitors. However, the speed by which information travels on the internet can result in a much more devastating effect than that of traditional marketing.
We can assist you in preventing and stopping the dissemination of false advertising claims via the internet. We can also counsel you on the limits of comparative advertising and promotional statements and claims (called “puffery”), so that you can make legitimate statements about your products and those of others without subjecting yourself to liability.
Domain Law and ICANN Proceedings
By registering a domain name, you agree to submit to the jurisdiction of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and comply with the requirements of the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) for trademark disputes in connection with domain names. The UDRP requires that trademark infringement disputes related to domain names be resolved by an agreement between the parties, an arbitration award, or a court judgment before the infringing name must be removed.
Our internet law practice includes dealing with cybersquatting, domain disputes, and domain hijacking issues. These matters can often be resolved through informal or formal alternative dispute resolution, which is a cost-effective alternative to traditional litigation.
However, when necessary, we can represent you in ICANN proceedings wherein the rights of the parties to a certain domain name(s) are decided by panelists.
Internet defamation occurs when someone publishes a false statement to a third party of and concerning a plaintiff, and the plaintiff suffers damages as a result. The hallmark of this cause of action is harm to one’s reputation. Written statements of defamation, including audio statements that are broadcasted, are known as libel. Libelous statements might be posted on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest.
Keep in mind that defamatory statements must be assertions of fact, which are false. Statements of opinion, rather than fact, are not actionable as defamation and are generally protected under the First Amendment. If you receive a bad review on a site like Yelp, you will only be able to succeed in a defamation suit if the statement meets this legal requirement.
We have experience in a variety of internet defamation matters, both personal and business matters, including anonymous postings and content on consumer review websites. Using a combination of legal means and investigative services, our firm is often able to identify the source of anonymous postings, so that the persons responsible can be pursued.
Internet Fraud And Unfair Competition
Our investigative services allow you to identify persons responsible for content that is fraudulent or constitutes unfair competition. Once identified, we can pursue any and all claims that you have against such persons.
Internet Content Licensing
We can draft and negotiate a broad range of license agreements relating to website content and/or intellectual property available via the internet.
Website Terms, Conditions, and Privacy Policies
If you have an internet presence, appropriate terms and conditions and privacy policies are important, as they establish the relationship you have with the people accessing and using your content or website. It is important to set forth the nature and scope of this relationship to protect the valuable intellectual property assets and limit your liability.
Trademark, Copyright And Patent Infringement
Intellectual property can be the most valuable assets a company has and advertising via the internet has become essential to success. However, the internet makes the infringement of trademarks, copyrights and patents far easier than it has ever been. Our firm can advise you on how best to protect the assets as well as pursue or defend allegations of infringement.
Terms and Conditions
The terms and conditions of your website are vital to limiting your liability, protecting your content, trademarks, and proprietary information, and setting forth clear terms that users of your website must abide by.
Some common provisions you might consider including in your website’s terms and conditions are relevant disclaimers and general limitations of liability, your asserted ownership and retention of intellectual property rights and prohibition of unauthorized use of your IP, disclosure of advertising or affiliate links and relationships, terms of payment if you sell goods or services on your website, the right to change and update your terms and conditions, and violations that would terminate a user’s right to access your website.
Once you have set forth the details of your collection of user’s personal data, you should also inform users of their rights under the GDPR, and how they can file a complaint, if necessary.
User rights under the GDPR include the right to data portability (retain and reuse data), erasure of their personal data, information about the type of data collected and how it is stored, object to use of their personal data, fix any misuse of data or improper collection, restrict processing of their data, and opt-out of automations.
U.S.-based companies, not just EU-based companies, with a strong web presence should be incorporating the GDPR in their policies and practices. Our attorneys, at The Myers Law Group, can assist you to ensure GDPR compliance.
Trademark, Copyright and Patent Infringement
Intellectual property can be the most valuable assets a company owns. However, the internet makes the infringement of trademarks, copyrights, and patents far easier than it has ever been. Our firm can advise you on how best to protect your IP, as well as pursue or defend allegations of infringement.
Trademark rights protect a name or logo used in association with a good or service sold in commerce that identifies the source of the good or service. Your trademark represents your brand and the legal protection provided to you as a trademark owner allows you to take legal recourse against unauthorized users of your trademark.
When doing business, especially online, it is crucial to distinguish yourself from competitors and develop a distinct brand. When someone uses your trademark or a similar mark, they may create confusion for the consumer as to the source of the goods or services, harm your reputation, and damage the goodwill of your trademark.
Trademark rights are extended under common law to the first individual to use the mark in commerce. While trademark registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is not required in order to have legal rights to your trademark, it provides significant legal benefits and increased protection for your mark. If your mark is registered with the USPTO and someone infringes on your trademark rights, that is, uses the mark without your authorization, you can bring a lawsuit against them in federal court.
Typically, the first step when dealing with a trademark infringer is to send a cease and desist letter. We will discuss the basics of a cease and desist letter below.
Copyright is a form of legal protection extended to a work of original authorship and may include blog posts, eBooks, webpage content, infographics, photos, videos, software apps, and other artistic works. The protection attaches to your work the moment it is created in a fixed, tangible medium, whether or not the work is published.
You can register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office to receive additional legal benefits and protection including the ability to file a lawsuit in federal court, receive statutory damages, and shift the burden of proof to the defendant infringer, when certain conditions are met.
Just like instances of trademark infringement, a common first step in dealing with copyright infringement is usually to send the infringer a cease and desist letter, detailing their unauthorized use and demanding they remove and/or destroy the infringement content and stop infringing on your copyright.
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
In the context of copyright infringement on the internet, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides legal protection to your copyrighted work on various digital mediums. The DMCA provides enhanced protections and recourse for owners of copyrighted materials, while simultaneously limiting the liability of online service providers.
One of its most significant protections is the ability of copyright owners to file a takedown notice under the DMCA. You can send a takedown notice even if your copyright is not registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.
After ensuring that you are the owner of the copyright and the infringer’s use of the content is not protected by fair use, you can send a DMCA notice to the Internet Service Provider (ISP), site owner, search engine, or web host controlling the infringing content to inform them that your copyrighted work is being used without authorization.
Provisions of the DMCA are not only relevant to copyright owners, but also if you allow consumers or third parties to submit content to your websites, social media pages, blogs, or any other internet platforms, potentially classifying you as an ISP under the Act. If so, you may need to set up DMCA notification procedures to ensure that you are not liable for the content posted by third parties.
It is wise to consult a copyright and internet law attorney, if you receive a DMCA takedown notice from another party regarding content on your site and are unsure whether the referenced content is in fact infringing. While the DMCA does not legally require that you take down the content alleged by the takedown notice to be infringing, if you choose to comply, you will be protected from liability for monetary relief. The Act does not specify a deadline for removing infringing content after receiving a DMCA notice, but simply requires that you do so expeditiously.
If your content is improperly removed by an ISP or another party pursuant to a DMCA notice falsely alleging copyright infringement, you have a right to file a counter notification to contest the takedown. The DMCA requires that you submit a counter notice with a good faith belief that the material was removed due to misidentification or mistake.
Case law on patent protection relating to the intricacies of electronic commerce is continually developing. Generally speaking, patent law protects inventions or discoveries of a new process, machine, design for an article of manufacture, or composition of matter. While some software can be protected by a patent, it must meet strict criteria of patentability, including uniqueness, offering an identifiable improvement, and be tied to a machine or transform an article into a different state.
Unlike trademarks and copyrights, patent protection in the U.S. is extended on a first to file basis for applications received after March 2013. Due to the complex nature of patent law, it is generally advisable to work with a patent lawyer to conduct a patent search and prepare a patent application. Our patent team can assist you with the patent application process.
Cease and Desist Letters
A cease and desist letter is typically drafted by an attorney and sent to a party that is infringing on a client’s trademark, copyright, or patent rights. It can be very effective in stopping infringing activity and help to avoid a much costlier lawsuit. However, it is important to understand that a cease and desist letter does not on its own hold any legal weight—it simply puts an infringing party on notice of their violations of your IP rights and makes a demand that the infringing activity stop.
While there are many benefits to sending such a letter and doing so is almost always the first step before filing an infringement lawsuit, the wording, tone, and even decision to send a cease and desist letter are all considerations that a client and attorney must discuss together.
Right of Publicity
Many states afford protection to a person’s name, image, and likeness while also providing remedies should someone use them without permission. At the heart of these laws is the notion that individuals should be able to control the use of their name, image, and likeness, and choose who or what they are associated with. Our attorneys can counsel and pursue claims on your behalf, if your right of publicity has been violated.
Obtain Skilled Representation Today
Our legal counsel and representation in internet law matters is invaluable. With 35 years of combined experience and immediate access to The Myers Law Group attorneys, we offer you side-by-side assistance and guidance.
Please call us at 888-415-4373 to speak with our resourceful internet law attorneys. You may also contact us by secure email. We look forward to helping you resolve your legal matters cost-effectively.