Do patent, trademark and copyright laws apply to computers and related activities?
UPDATED: December 17, 2019
It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.
We strive to help you make confident law decisions. Finding trusted and reliable legal advice should be easy. This doesn't influence our content. Our opinions are our own.
Patent, trademark, and copyright laws are not only enforced in print and media – they are also enforced on the internet. Though there is no single major law or governing body that oversees information transmitted online (as of the date this article was written), laws related to the infringement of copyright are still very much in force when it comes to websites, online advertisements, photos, and anything else posted on the net or having to do with computers.
Understanding Copyright Rules
Because the internet encourages such an unmonitored and vast exchange of information, copyright, patent, and trademark laws are more important than ever – some argue that they are more vital online than anywhere else. The ease with which virtually any user can copy information from the internet is astonishing, and there is almost nothing – except the laws themselves, and their penalties – to keep people from re-using that information without the permission of the owner.
Anyone found copying, stealing, or infringing on trademarks, patents, and copyrights online is subject to the same penalties as he would have been had he broken the law in any other capacity. Typically the violator will be informed that he has been caught stealing the information, and given a certain amount of time to cease and desist using it. Should the violator not comply, a lawsuit can be brought against him by the person with the rightful ownership of the information in question, and the violator may be forced to pay not only for the usage, but for any damages considered reasonable by the court.
Issues do arise with jurisdiction, unfortunately, some of the copyright laws can be somewhat more difficult to enforce. For example, information taken from a personal copyrighted blog may be in violation of the copyright laws. However, whether the blogger will wish to pay the expenses of a legal action will depend largely on the monetary value lost and on the ease of finding and taking action against the information thief.
If you have any questions about copyright, patent, or trademark laws, consult an intellectual property lawyer.