What is Intellectual property Rights?
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) would refer to anything and everything that is the conception of the human mind which creates an exclusive right bestowed upon the person over the creations of their intellect. According to the Oxford Dictionary, “intellectual property is an intangible property as a result of human creativity.” Intellectual Property is of various kinds, few significant ones being Copyrights, Trademark and Patents. IPR also include inventions of a product or process, a start-up business, creating new music or lyrics of a song and many more.
What is E-Commerce?
Electronic Commerce or E-Commerce as simply told is where commercial transactions are conducted through online mode. These would include conducting or establishing businesses, exchanging goods and services or both primarily over the internet. Examples For E-commerce would include platforms such as: Amazon, Swiggy, Zomato and so forth.
How are IPR and E-commerce interlinked? Lets find out!
In today’s world, economies are constantly growing and changing. Internet as such plays a vital role in the development of the same. That being the case, it is necessary to understand that IPR plays a crucial role in the process of conducting e-commerce business and its impact in the virtual world. It is necessary to keep tab on the E-commerce along with the technology infrastructure in such manner that the value of intellectual property is not disregarded. It is crucial than ever that there needs to be a constant process of improvement in this technicality of internet access.
The methodology to understand the role of Intellectual Property in E-commerce is based on certain aspects. They are:
- Protection of business
IPR plays an important role in safeguarding the core business interest of a company including all its affiliates/subsidiaries, its domain in the corporate world. More fully against unfair competition amongst the businesses. In case there is no application of IPR or the IPR laws are not abided, it will lead to severe violations of IPR and the consequences will surely effect the good will of a Company. That means to say that IPR plays a significant role in the digital economy. Without IPR in place, anything and everything can be pilfered. It may extend from a design to a software. The Owners may be perplexed on such duplication and stealing and then the same being floated over the virtual domain. The Owners will never be recognized for their unique innovations.
- Safeguarding the ownership of the factors involved in the business development.
There would be several factors that enable a company to be structured and with Intellectual Property law in place, especially for the e-commerce transactions helps to safeguard the digital and technical components which are critical to the company. For instance, there can be software which is connected to networks/routers, the software designs, software programs, HTML codes etc. All these factors may be available in different forms and may contain an intellectual property right which not only needs to be protected but to be continued to be protected. This will enable the E-commerce to run efficiently and smoothly. Thus, the IPR coated E-commerce safeguards these important factors which are essentially the enablers.
- Protection of IPR
Every E-Commerce businesses recognizes IPR on all such creations/innovations especially the patents, copyrights, marks and trade secrets. A product that is developed by a company or an individual and commercializing the product involves development of variety of technologies so as to protect the product in the public domain. In such cases, the companies/individuals turn up to technology providers who will enter into licensing Agreements wherein certain rights are given for a certain period of time and for a specific purpose. The License Agreement facilitates the owner of the product to safeguard his intellectual property rights in his products by way of acceptance of the owner’s standard terms and conditions wherein the IPR protection is deemed as material term of the contract.
- Preservation of patent portfolios and trademarks
If a business has to capture the market in the e-commerce arena, IPR creation becomes an impeccable asset to the Company. The Company will own the portfolio of such intellectual property eg: by Patent or trademark registration. This enhances the company’s credibility and of course will lead to significant development in the company’s financial position as the online business world catches the company that shows their business in the light of the preservation of their patent portfolios and trademarks.
IPR and E-Commerce
Several Companies believe in the fact that their intellectual properties are worthy to a great extent such that the protection of the tangible assets owned may be a secondary priority. This is very much true in the global market and with the recent happening of online businesses because the intellectual property rights and the law that exists with regard to the same enables the companies from keeping their trade secrets protected and disallows any unfair competition.
IPR plays an important role in E-commerce in today’s digital economy. The laws that govern the IPR has brought the businesses globally to function by supporting new creations but also guarding the tedious inputs that is gone into by the creator of such intellectual property. The laws pertaining to Intellectual Property Rights allows The law blocks others from stealing the Intellectual property of the owner. So that there is no impact on the financial position of the inventor and their struggle in bringing the goodwill in the b2b market which is available in the electronic network.
Fundamentals of IPR in e-commerce:
E-Commerce is a great enabler of a business. However, it is the owner who is solely responsible in protecting the intellectual property rights. If the owner while revealing the intellectual property to the public or in any media through E-commerce fails to protect it beforehand. This becomes fatal and gives scope for the others to use the owners intellectual property unfairly much before filing for its protection. There may not be any legal solution that the owner can adopt and also leaving the culprits to walk away freely with no reprimand whatsoever. No trade secrets can be protected once it is in the public domain. The owner loses all his rights against the virtual world. Eg secrets of Software algorithm if shared, then such software algorithm cannot be protected.
Breach of Intellectual property
Any website that involves transactions that is mostly buying or selling online is a part of E-commerce websites. The Companies while dong e-business may knowingly or unknowingly tend to violate the intellectual property rights by displaying the images, designs or even products of another companies. The most common example is that of Chinese products that looks similar but are just a duplication of the original product. Such companies should carefully ensure that they do their due diligence effectively to avoid any infringements of the owner’s intellectual property rights and also that they do not violate the laws that protect the intellectual property in the country of origin of the product. They should be able to show that the sale is on an original development and that the intellectual property owner is well aware and there is permission to sell in the online platform.
Protection of IPR under E-commerce
IPR in retail and e-commerce deals with buying and selling products through a physical shop and a website, respectively . In retail also an owner needs to protect his intellectual property rights. It is no different that is for E-commerce and should variously types of intellectual properties. The following states the usual IPR in E-commerce.
Various patent models protect E-commerce like search engines etc. Patent Law or the Copyrights Act depend from country to country and their IPR laws may be divergent in application. Eg. A website design protected by copyright law. The copyright protection is available under the copyright law for the graphics, designs, materials, audio or video clippings, photographs etc. Therefore, the companies in e commerce world can protect their database under such copyright laws as applicable in their specific country.
Protection of brands:
Features that are posted on their application and/or their websites under the Trademark Law. the Intellectual Property Rights also encompasses protection of webpages, displays that are computer-generated, graphics, graphical user interfaces. This may also be protected under at the Industrial Design Laws as per the applicability in their respective country.
There would be certain websites which will have hidden characteristics like graphics that are confidential in nature, source codes, flow charts, data structure, algorithms, various technical descriptions, manuals, contents etc to name a few, are entirely protected under various Trade Secret Laws and opens up the various other laws in protection of such intellectual property rights.
In today’s world there is no denying of the fact that achievement of fair and ethical compliance of online businesses and practices cannot be accomplished without the effective use of Intellectual Property Laws. The society is more relying on e commerce and not only the E- businesses development wherein the retail activity is drastically reduced. Like the pandemic struck economy wherein the E-commerce led to significant growth in the virtual market. Making it more diverse and dynamic approach of online platforms.
As the growth of online business expands the Intellectual Property Rights facilitates the companies to protect and monitor their trade activities that are especially to maintain secrecy. IP rights in e-commerce also allow IPR owners to claim a share of the company’s profits. The Implementation of intellectual property rights will focus on the features that are exclusive and are unavailable to others and thus making the implementation of E-Commerce activity in the public domain successfully. The Legal protection of intellectual property rights brings in sturdiness in the usage of intellectual property which helps in not only in licensing, contracting, outsourcing but also helps in building strategic relationships, developing new concepts which in return enhances the sales and E-Commerce business by bringing in features that are unavailable to its competitors. This enables a healthy competition in the internet world and bringing in profits to the right owners of the intellectual property. Therefore Intellectual property stands as a guard to the E-Commerce and enhances fair play in the economy while adopting right measures of protection if Intellectual Property Rights.