In today’s global innovation economy, the internet has become a revolutionary technology which is known to empower consumers and businesses alike with the blessings of connectivity at all levels. When it comes to E-Commerce, Intellectual Property (IP) is perhaps the most neglected, yet the highest value-bearing component either because it is less comprehended or its significant connections to E-Commerce aren’t evident. E-Commerce more than any other platform often involves the selling of goods and services that are based on IP and its licensing. Therefore, online businesses should make sincere efforts to ensure their activities are free from IP risks which might slow down or actually kill their businesses.
Role of Intellectual Property in E-Commerce
With the profound use of the Internet and technological infrastructure, Intellectual Property plays an important role in E-Commerce in the ways mentioned below:
- The Intellectual Property Law safeguards the business interests and entities of a company or an individual against unfair competition. Coming to the digital economy and E-commerce, in the absence of IP laws and practices, everything ranging from music, software, design, and so forth could be stolen, duplicated, or distributed over the globe without paying the proprietors for their one of a kind creation and work.
- Additionally, IP is also involved in the working of E-Commerce as components like software, chips, networks, designs, routers, to name a few, are all forms of IP which must be protected to allow the functioning of the Internet.
- All E-Commerce and online businesses are based on product or patent licensing. As a variety of technologies are needed to create a product, most online businesses either outsource the development of some components or share technologies using licensing agreements.
- E-Commerce based businesses consider IP as their most valuable asset and often own Patent portfolios and trademarks to enhance the value of their online businesses.
What are the different elements of protection for E-Commerce?
- Patents/utility models can be used to protect E-Commerce systems, search engines, or any other technical tools on the Internet.
- Copyrights or Patents can protect software and text-based HTML code used on websites.
- Copyrights can be exclusively used to protect the design and creative design of websites including text, images, graphics, audios, and videos.
- Sui generis database laws or copyrights can provide protection to databases.
- Trademarks can protect the names, logos, symbols, and other signs which are posted on websites.
- Industrial Design Protection can be given to screen displays, graphic user interfaces, web pages, and computer-generated graphic symbols.
- Any mark that reflects the name and character of the business can be registered as a trademark.
- Online business methods can be filed for Patent Protection.
In this digital era, copyrights play a significant role in safeguarding the creative content and information available on the websites. With rapid digitalization, the copyright owners seek Copyright Protection to prevent any unauthorized copying or distribution of their works presented online. Moreover, many technological prevention methods like Encryption and Watermarking can be effectively used to safeguard the IP rights of online businesses.
In the online world and E-Commerce, Trademarks have considerable importance to build a brand image by growing or selling the businesses. A Registered Trademark also makes it easier to take legal action and proceedings against brands that infringe on your business assets online.
Patents offer a considerable amount of incentives to the researchers and innovators in the arena of E-Commerce and online businesses. Patents help in licensing, contracting to outsource, and building strategic relationships involved in E-Commerce. Patents not only help in recording and developing new ideas for an E-Commerce business, but also boost up the sales of your products by giving them exclusive features unavailable to the other competitors in the online business.
In a nutshell, it can be noted that without Intellectual Property Rights, the fair compliance of activities and practices can never be achieved in such a dynamic and diverse world of E-Commerce and online businesses. With the rapid growth in technological inventions, IP rights help in safeguarding and maintaining the secrecy of trade activities, while providing the actual share of profits to the IP Right owners. Therefore, it will not be wrong to say that IP Rights stand as a protective guard to the activities of the E-Commerce arena whose rate of success is completely dependent upon the implementation of effective IP Rights measures.