Counteracting Copyright and Trademark Infringement on the Internet
With the advent of the Internet, counterfeiting has become a serious problem for consumers, brand owners, and governments alike. Trademark infringement and copyright infringement especially have become abundant problems as the Internet emerges as an especially important e-commerce tool. Copyright infringement occurs when others infringe upon a copyright holder’s right to distribute, reproduce, display, or perform a copyrighted work. Copyright infringement also occurs when the infringement impacts a copyright’s holder’s ability to make derivative works. Copyright infringement most commonly occurs in the form of piracy. Piracy typically refers to the unauthorized copying, distributing, and selling of copyrighted works. This generally affects musical works, movies, software, and video games. Moreover, with the advent of peer-to-peer file sharing, the Internet has allowed piracy to manifest in a number of new ways.
Trademark infringement occurs when there is illegal production or sale of goods with packaging that bears illegal reproduction of registered or otherwise valid trademarks. Trademark infringement also occurs when there is sale of goods with packaging that bears fake trademarks that cannot be distinguished from valid trademarks. Trademark infringement typically affects clothes, luxury goods, or electronic goods because counterfeiters seek to trade off the goodwill already created by famous brands.
In order to counteract trademark infringement and copyright infringement, anti-counterfeiting measures can be enacted on a variety of levels. If a brand owner chooses to combat trademark infringement or copyright infringement at the factory level, there are a number of methods they may choose from. For example, one method used by the community, “Collectors Proof” enables manufacturers to associate unique identification numbers with their items so that each new owner can update its chain of custody, a provenance that counterfeiters would be unable to provide. Similarly, the International Hologram Manufacturers Association uses unique holograms during the manufacturing process as an anti-counterfeiting method. In a similar vein, companies may have different parts assembled at different factories or limit the number of parts available to manufacturing factories so that extra parts may not be siphoned off to make counterfeit products. Likewise, the brand owners may also require the factory to account for any unused, faulty, or damaged parts. While such strict tracking of inventory can be expensive, failing to battle trademark infringement or copyright infringement will always end up costing the brand owner more.
Anti-counterfeiting measures can also be enforced at the retail level. If a company waits to enforce anti-counterfeiting measures at the retail level, however, it usually takes the form of legal action such as an injunction or a lawsuit.
There are also anti-counterfeiting measures at the global level. For example, he Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which the United States signed on October 1, 2011, is a global initiative aimed at strengthening the legal framework for combating global counterfeiting and piracy. Other signatories are Australia, Canada, Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Morocco, the European Union, Mexico, and Singapore. ACTA also aims to target illegal generic copies of medications on the Internet and create a new intellectual property-oriented governing body outside the World Intellectual Property Organization, World Trade Organization, and the United Nations.
While the Internet has introduced new challenges for brand owners, governments, and consumers alike when it comes to trademark infringement and copyright infringement, there are similarly also new anti-counterfeiting measures being enacted and enforced to meet and counter these new problems as they appear.
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Klemchuk LLP is an Intellectual Property (IP), Technology, Internet, and Business law firm located in Dallas, TX. The firm offers comprehensive legal services including litigation and enforcement of all forms of IP as well as registration and licensing of patents, trademarks, trade dress, and copyrights. The firm also provides a wide range of technology, Internet, e-commerce, and business services including business planning, formation, and financing, mergers and acquisitions, business litigation, data privacy, and domain name dispute resolution. Additional information about the IP law firm and its IP law attorneys may be found at www.klemchuk.com.
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