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Web Sites

The world of the internet offers numerous opportunities to expand your business, as the limitations of physical boundaries do not apply there. If you decide to take your business online, you need to keep a few things related to Intellectual Property in mind, to be able to enjoy the opportunities provided by the world wide web to the fullest extent.

  • While you are developing your website, make sure that you own the content used on your website and the IP rights contained in or linked with it. To come up with the perfect website to suit your business, you may use pictures, text, documents, a database, links, music, videos, technical tools, etc. These may be protected by IP rights of third parties. This means that you cannot use them, unless you have explicit and written permission from the rightsholders.

  • Things which are freely available and downloadable on the internet may nonetheless be protected by IP rights. Just acknowledging the source might not be adequate, particularly if you use them for commercial purposes and in a for-profit setting. You need permission from the right holder to use them.
  • Even though the original content appearing on your website enjoys automatic protection under copyright, it is highly advisable to insert a copyright notice on your website indicating that the content available on your website is IP protected and no one may use it without your express permission. Such copyright notice may even be placed at the end of every page of the site, so as to clearly remind users that you are the exclusive owner of the content, format, appearance of your web site. The notice could indicate the name of a contact person in case authorization for use is sought.
  • You can also control access to specific parts of your website by encryption, online agreements, or conditional access systems.
  • To detect infringements of your website, you can take random parts of texts from your site and search for these parts using any search engine on the internet.
  • Providing links and deep-links (i.e. links to specific pages of third parties’ web sites as opposed to their front page) to other websites or works may be an infringement of IP. Obtaining permission for linking is therefore highly advisable.
  • If a website collects consumers’ personal information such as names, email addresses, gender, professions, preferences, etc. make sure you comply with the personal data protection legislation of the relevant countries, and adequately ensure the privacy of such information.
  • In several countries, the name, face, voice and image of a person is protected by privacy rights. Therefore, before using such elements on your website, it is necessary to check the applicable laws and request permission, where needed.
  • Finally, you have to decide what is best to show to the world, and what is not. This decision is important, particularly because in some cases it may have legal repercussions precisely related to your intellectual property rights. Thus, having your IPRs duly protected before disclosing your products on the internet is vital.

For more information about the IP considerations relating to websites, please refer to the Handbook on IP Commercialisation, Section E.2 and 3.


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