The Internet is a relatively new phenomenon, and thus, so is the law regulating the Internet. The following are some issues related to Cyberspace Law:
- Domain Name Issues - A domain name is the address of a particular website, or the URL. Many businesses use their existing business names as domain names.
- Trademark Infringement - Small alterations in a domain name from a similarly named site that results in consumer confusion may be considered trademark infringement. If you already have a trademark for your business name, and the domain name is taken, you may have an actionable trademark infringement claim. Learn more about trademarks.
- Cybersquatting - Cybersquatting is when a party takes your established business name or mark, registers it as a domain name, and waits for you to try to use your business name or mark as your own domain name. The innocent and established business will then be forced to buy from the cybersquatter their own name or mark to use as a domain name.
- Legal Protections for Victims of Cybersquatting - In 1999, Congress pass the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. The Act applies to a party who registers or uses a domain name with the "bad faith intent" to profit from the goodwill of an existing trademark belonging to someone else. Proving "bad faith intent" is difficult. If the suspected cybersquatter can show that she was using the domain name for some reasonable purpose, courts will typically allow her to continue.
- Spam - E-mail moves across many lines to get to its final destination. E-mail is thus not absolutely protected from hackers who wish to know the contents of the e-mail. Here are some other issues to keep in mind when sending e-mail:
- E-mailing in General - Aside from hackers, government agents may access your e-mail. Some Internet Service Providers hold your e-mail before distributing it. If a government agent has a valid warrant, the Internet Service Provider must release the e-mails to the agent.
- E-mail from Work - An employee does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in his e-mail when at work on the employer's time and using the employer's office equipment.
Should I Consult an Attorney about My Cyberspace Issue?
Legislatures are slowly catching up with the advances in the Internet. Laws regulating cyberspace activities are popping up frequently, and a good lawyer can keep you apprised of the new laws regulating business on the Internet to insure that your business conforms. A business attorney can also help you if you feel you have been a victim of an Internet scam or cybersquatting. Further, an attorney can research domain names and trademarks, or pursue a lawsuit for trademark infringement.