World Intellectual Property Organization

Marketing your Products and Services in the New Economy

Impact of Electronic Commerce on Intellectual Property and Your SME

While the Internet can open a lot of opportunities for SMEs, it may also pose a number of challenges for the effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, in general, and for copyright and related rights, trademarks and patents, in particular. The protection of copyright and related rights in the digital environment, the protectability of e-commerce business methods by patents, the use of trademarks as “metatags” and keywords, the infringement of trademark rights through the use of a sign on the Internet, the scope of protection of well-known marks and unfair competition in electronic commerce are some of the controversial issues and challenges which your SME may have to face. For further information, see Intellectual Property in E-Commerce.

Domain Names

If you intend to do business via the Internet then you need an Internet address, technically known as a domain name. In spite of their different function, domain names often conflict with marks which are used to identify and distinguish your products or services from those of your competitors. Your SME should, therefore, avoid using a domain name that is already protected by another enterprise as a mark. When your SME is faced with the use of its mark as a domain name by a competitor, you may wish to seek advice on how a dispute can be settled efficiently and at a reasonable cost. While conflicts between marks and domain names can be resolved in courts, many SMEs may prefer to take advantage of faster and cheaper special procedures under alternative dispute settlement mechanisms (see http://ecommerce.wipo.int/primer/section3.html). WIPO's Domain Name Dispute Resolution Services is a leading institution in this area.

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