The law relating to technology, often referred to as intellectual property law, is an extremely complex and wide body of law. Disputes concerning technology law or intellectual property law are among the most complex cases presented in the courts due in significant part to the “moving target” aspect of the law.
New Information Age
In this information age, the courts are flooded with a number of technology created issues. Lawmakers, courts, businesses, and consumers are finding it increasingly difficult to keep pace with novel issues brought by new and rapidly evolving technologies. Since innovation has expanded so rapidly over the last decade, courts seem to be addressing both novel and new issues presented as cases of first impression.
Inevitably, change in the law is moving much slower than technology is advancing, leaving many technology-based issues to be decided in the courtroom. Variations in the application of the law — both between federal and state law and even between federal circuits – make legal decisions unclear. Additionally, courts often attempt to apply older established legal principals to new technology-based disputes, only later encounter additional, unanticipated legal issues and problems. As such, an up-to-the-minute understanding of technology is necessary for success in any type of technology-based litigation.
The Internet, new digital mediums, encryption and decryption technologies, digital copying, editing technologies, online music services, and developments such as peer-to-peer file sharing, have raised a number of high profile cases dealing with copyright law, fair use, contributory infringement, privacy issues, and consumer rights. Napster, KaZaA, Grokster, Gnutella, and MP3 have become common terms inside and outside the courthouse.
The Internet and the World Wide Web have also created a whole new set of issues involving trademark laws. Trademark issues involving domain disputes and cybersquatting have become commonly litigated subjects. Patent law is also evolving with the emergence of new technologies. Software patents, “mask work” copyrights and patents (protecting microchip designs), and online "e-business" method patents are all relatively new developments and are still the subject of hot debate.
New technology and the Internet have also created complex contractual and licensing issues. Businesses and individuals must anticipate new emerging technologies and mediums in their development and licensing agreements.
Areas of Practice
The Internet has ushered in a new information age, allowing people across the globe to connect with one another and conveniently access and share information. The Internet however has raised numerous intellectual property issues such as trademark infringement, cybersquatting, online piracy, and copyright infringement. Additionally, Internet practices such as hacking, identity theft, spamming, information data mining and collection,, and online defamatory statements has raised serious criminal and constitutional issues involving free speech and privacy rights Amendment rights.
Encryption and decryption technologies, advanced digital copying and editing technologies, reverse engineering, and the Internet, have facilitated the copying, modification, and distribution of copyrighted digital and non-digital works. In addition to infringement concerns, new mediums and multimedia technologies have created a host of other copyright issues involving licensing, authorship, work for hire, and compilation copyright issues.
Trademark and tradename disputes have become more common with the advent of the Internet. Businesses and individuals may become engaged in trademark enforcement and litigation involving claims of infringement, dilution, misappropriation, false advertising, counterfeiting, right of publicity, unfair competition, domain name infringement and other Internet disputes.
Entertainment litigation involves a number of sub-specialities within the intellectual property arena. While “Entertainment” litigation is not one specialized field of law, it draws upon the laws concerning intellectual property, contract and tort, with increasing attention and value to technology and intellectual property rights.
Since the advent of the information age, the courts have been flooded with legal disputes and issues involving new and emerging technologies. New technologies, multimedia formats and mediums, such as DVDs and online digital streaming, have greatly expanded the scope of intellectual property law. and created a number of novel issues related to copyright, contract, and licensing law.
Patent law is also evolving with the emergence of new technologies. Software patents, “mask work” copyrights and patents (protecting microchip designs), and online "e-business" method patents are all relatively new developments and are still the subject of hot debate. New technologies and the Internet have also created complex contractual and patent licensing issues.
The law of unfair competition is a large, diverse body of law that provides businesses and consumers protection against unfair or deceptive business practices. Unfair competition includes trademark infringement or dilution, false advertising, fraud, trade secret theft, and misappropriation. New technology. media, the Internet, and e-commerce have created a variety of new unfair and deceptive practices.