AMBROGI LAW OFFICE > ARTICLES
Protecting Intellectual Property: Practical
Resources on the Web
By Robert J. Ambrogi
With its ease of duplicating and delivering words, sounds, pictures and
data, the Internet has spawned a sprawling industry among lawyers and regulators
seeking to protect and define intellectual property rights in a digital age.
And just as it is raising new questions for IP lawyers, it is also helping
to answer them through an array of practical Web sites.
In a recent column, I reviewed some of the leading Web sites for
searching patents and trademarks. This column samples some of the more general
sites devoted to IP law and practice.
Laws, Cases and Treaties
The World Intellectual Property Organization,
, is the U.N. agency responsible for the protection of intellectual property
throughout the world. Its Web site provides background and texts of all major
treaties and other forms of international IP protection. The site includes
complete information on intellectual property in general, and on specific
WIPO initiatives on dispute resolution, domain names, electronic commerce,
biotechnology, and other current issues.
WIPO also maintains the Collection
of Laws for Electronic Access, or CLEA, a database containing all national
laws relating to intellectual property, all treaties administered by WIPO,
and bibliographic data concerning each legislative text and treaty. While
the bibliographic data is in English only, the laws and treaties are available
in French and Spanish as well. The system is remarkably simple to use, with
a search bar and menu of contents on the left and results displayed in the
Sponsored by Stanford University Libraries, Copyright and Fair Use is a useful
collection of copyright law materials and links with a focus on primary source
materials, including current legislation and recent cases. Of particular note
is its case law section, which includes not only full text opinions, but,
for some cases, briefs and analyses.
Decisions in domain-name disputes can be difficult to track down,
published on various sites with no easy search mechanism. The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy
Database, launched in 2003, offers a solution, providing free access to
decisions issued in accordance with the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy
of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names
and Numbers (ICANN). As of this writing, the database includes nearly
7,000 decisions involving more than 11,000 domain names.
All About Trademarks has one
of the best collections of links to trademark resources, as well as some to
general IP resources. Links are organized under general trademark resources,
federal law and practice, state trademark laws, international trademark law,
trademarks in Cyberspace, and trademark searching. Topping it all off are
articles reviewing the basics of acquiring, protecting and using trademarks
written by the site's host, Dallas, Texas, lawyer Gregory H. Guillot.
Created by Hopkins, Minn., lawyer Daniel A. Tysver, BitLaw has grown over the years from a compilation
of legal resources related to computers and the Internet into a virtual online
treatise on intellectual property and technology law. With over 1,800 pages
covering patent, copyright, trademark and Internet law, the site is a combination
of original essays and hyperlinked resources.
We are all familiar with the phrase, "All rights reserved." But what
if an IP owner wants to reserve only some rights? This is the operating thesis
of Creative Commons, a trailblazing
project with roots in the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard
Law School and the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society. It
allows creators to dedicate their work to the public domain or license it
on terms more flexible than copyright, allowing certain uses on certain conditions.
Franklin Pierce Law Center's Intellectual Property Mall is a comprehensive,
"one-stop shopping" site for links to IP resources on the Internet. Many of
the links include thorough annotations, making them more useful than most.
But links are not all you will find here. Among the varied resources are a
library of faculty research papers on IP topics, a collection of IP moot court
briefs from award-winning teams, federal IP jury instructions, copies of
USPTO patent examinations, and a tutorial on patent searching via the Internet.
The who, what, where and how of European IP law and practice is the
theme of the Intellectual Property Rights
Helpdesk, a comprehensive site maintained by the European Community's
Research and Development Information Service. The Helpdesk provides broad
information on European IP law, with sections focusing on copyright, inventions,
designs and other IP issues. It includes an extensive collection of practice
guides and working papers.
The Law.com IP Law
Practice Center is a part free, part subscription service providing news,
court opinions, analysis and practice pointers. Its practice-specific news
articles, updated daily, are gathered from American Lawyer Media's chain of
national and state publications. IP case opinions are culled from the Supreme
Court, all the federal circuit courts, and state appellate courts. Subscribers
receive a weekly e-mail alert containing the latest news and cases.
Mayall's IP Links,
from U.K. attorney John Mayall, may well be the best, most thorough collection
of IP links, all thoroughly annotated. It includes links to the patent databases
of virtually every country, to patent databases for specific technologies,
to patent offices of many countries, and to non-patent prior art databases.
Its trademark links are equally extensive. Most international IP laws covering
patents, trademarks and copyrights are included, as are IP treaties and conventions.
Intellectual Property Law
provides links to IP resources, forums for discussing IP issues, current IP
news, and listings of IP jobs. Links are organized into separate pages for
patent, copyright and trademark. The collection is somewhat cursory but includes
most key sites. Forums are in bulletin board format and heavy with non-lawyers
asking general IP questions. The news section is a grid allowing quick searches
of online news sources such as Reuters and Google News.
The companion Web site to the magazine, IP Law & Business, is targeted to in-house
legal professionals and outside attorneys responsible for protecting and managing
corporate intellectual property assets. Published by American Lawyer Media,
the site features selected stories from the magazine, as well as IP Watch,
a daily selection of IP news stories.
The American Intellectual Property
Law Association is a 10,000-member national bar association. Its Web site
provides a range of information about IP law and practice, as well as general
information about the association. The site includes a library of AIPLA's
amicus briefs in various trademark and IP cases, and its testimony concerning
various legislative and rulemaking initiatives.
Although it counts attorneys among its members, the Intellectual Property Owners Association is
not a bar association, but a group of manufacturers, organizations and individuals
dedicated to protecting the rights of IP owners. Highlighting its Web site
is its daily news service - reports from the courts, Congress and elsewhere
on developments in IP law and related issues. Another section, "IP in the
Courts," pulls together in one location news reports of court rulings and
the actual rulings.
The International Trademark Association,
an international association of trademark owners and associated professionals,
hosts a Web site that goes beyond the usual association fare of membership
information, event listings and publication sales. While much of the site
is directed at non-professionals, a section designated for lawyers includes
the ITA's collection of amicus briefs and a guide to using ADR in trademark
and unfair competition matters.
For the most part, the Web site of the American Bar Association's
Intellectual Property Law Section is devoted to general information about
the section, describing its committees, listing upcoming meetings, and housing
a catalog of its publications. The section's Intellectual Property Newsletter
is included in full text. A page on current legislation provides useful descriptions
and analyses of bills pending before the U.S. Congress, and another section
provides recent amicus briefs.
Robert J. Ambrogi, a lawyer in Rockport, Mass., is author of
The Essential Guide to the
Best (and Worst) Legal Sites on the Web, the second edition of which is
available through LawCatalog.com.
E-mail him at rambrogi-at-legaline.com.