Internet

The speed and ease with which information travels across the Internet continues to pose unique challenges to traditional ideas of copyright, trademark, trade dress, trade secret, privacy, and free speech issues.  New case results come down almost daily, and the laws governing internet and e-commerce change frequently. 

Gerdes Law assists clients with operating safely and legally on the internet.  Ted Gerdes has a wealth of experience analyzing legal issues related to the Internet and e-commerce, and diligently keeps up with the rapid changes in this area of law.  Using this expertise, Ted will carefully review websites, suggest changes that should be made, identify any licenses that need to be acquired, and negotiate and prepare the agreements needed to acquire these rights. 

Ted Gerdes provides ongoing advice on numerous e-commerce issues, including:

Content 101

Web sites cover a wide range of subject matter, from basic information about a business, to entertainment, to news, and investigative journalism.  Regardless of the content, it is critical that it is reviewed and analyzed for potential problems relating to copyright, trademark, and personal rights such as, privacy, right of publicity, and defamation.  Creating a web site generates issues in addition to those present with print or film projects.  These include the use of linking, framing, metatags, domain names, trademarks, notices, and terms and conditions.  Ted Gerdes can assist you by analyzing your content for potential legal issues and guiding you through the process of creating a legally safe web site.  For web sites with frequent concerns, he is available as an ongoing consultant. 

Article Alert: Ted explores the topic of legal issues facing new technology and multimedia producers in his articles "Legal Tips for Interactive Multimedia Producers" and "Shelley Duval: Portrait of a Multimedia Pioneer." Ron Gertz discusses music issues in multimedia products in his article "Clearing Music for Multimedia Products."

Domain Name Cybersquatting

Domain name cybersquatting occurs when an entity purchases a domain name that is identical or similar to an existing trademark or service mark with the intention of profiting from the use of the domain name, including using the domain name to create a commercial website or selling the domain name for profit.  The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) protects trademark holders from this activity.  If you are considering purchasing a domain name that is similar to an existing trademark, first consult with an attorney experienced in cybersquatting law.

Meta Tags

Meta tags are HTML code embedded into websites to describe the website's content.  While invisible to the user, meta tags help search engines find relevant websites.  Problems can arise when a company uses a competitor's trademark in its meta tags in order to show up in results when consumers search for the competitor.  Court decisions thus far have held that it is illegal to use the competitor's trademark in the meta tag if it is intentionally deceptive or tries to misdirect consumers.  However, court decisions have also protected this use of meta tags for legitimate description, or in cases where the content is protected speech under the First Amendment.  This leaves a considerable amount of legal ambiguity; an attorney experienced in Internet issues can help ensure your metatags do not put you at risk for a trademark infringement claim.

Article Alert: The topic of metatags is explored in greater depth in Ted Gerdes's article: "Behind the Curtain: Trademarks As Metatags," previously published in Thomson CompuMark's "Client Times."

Blogs

Weblogs are a rapidly-growing method of producing and distributing content over the internet.  More and more businesses are turning to blogs as a way to inform and stay in touch with consumers, and many newspapers and other news outlets have created blogs for their reporters and journalists.  However, many blogs contain images, videos, and text acquired from other sources.  This raises frequent questions regarding copyright and trademark infringement, as well as personal rights, including right of publicity, privacy rights, and defamation.  Ted Gerdes can help provide blogs with initial clearance, as well as ongoing legal advice about these issues.

Seek Experience Legal Counsel

The rate at which internet commerce and entertainment is growing, in addition to how quickly internet law changes, makes it critical for all producers of web content to hire an experienced attorney to review and analyze their website.  To discuss your website or e-commerce platform with us, contact Gerdes Law today


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