Trademark Law - Computer Definition
Governs disputes between business owners over the names, logos, and other means they use to identify their products and services in the marketplace. More than 63,000,000 Internet domain names have been registered (one for every 100 people in the world), including tens of thousands of domain names apparently infringing on trademark and service marks. If someone owns a trademark or a service mark (federally registered or not), there can be some domain names infringing on that trademark, and though individuals may not realize it, under U.S. trademark law, trademark owners have a duty to police their marks and to prevent other parties from infringing on their trademarks.
In 2001, John Zuccarini gained notoriety because of a number of domain name violations of the U.S. Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. On October 30, 2000, the U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania ordered Zuccarini to pay damages of $500,000 (plus more than $30,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs) arising from five Internet domain names he got and used—in violation of the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. Zuccarini filed an appeal, but the Appeals court on June 15, 2001, supported the U.S. District Court’s decision. Zuccarini ran more than 3,000 Websites, netting him somewhere between $800,000 and $1,000,000 a year. He registered hundreds of Internet domain names that were misspellings of but remarkably similar to famous people’s names, marketing brands, company names, actors, television shows, and movies—including Budget Rent a Car Corporation, America Online, Saks & Company, Dow Jones & Company, Nicole Kidman, Minolta, and Microsoft Corporation.
Besides trademark infringement, companies are often highly concerned about patent infringement. In the United States and Canada, patent infringement occurs when an individual makes, or sells a patented invention in the said jurisdiction without obtaining authority from the patent owner. Practically anything “new” can be, arguably, patentable. Recently, patent laws in North America have recognized that software inventions, as well as methods of doing business—such as new online order processes (e.g. Amazon’s 1-click buy mechanism) or unique Internet advertising schemes—are, for the most part, patentable. In the U.S. and in Canada, the limitation period for patent infringement litigation is six years. If a party is found guilty of infringing another’s patent, with regard to damages, U.S. patent laws say that the court shall award damages adequate to compensate the owner of the patent, such as not less than a reasonable royalty along with interest and costs fixed by the court.
Some infringement cases in recent years have resulted in costly legal bills, as lawyers have battled in courtrooms over companies’ patent rights. One such case was fought over the past four years between EMC Corporation and the Hewlett-Packard Company. Though neither company admitted to any wrongdoing, as part of the settlement finally reached, both companies agreed to a five-year patent cross-licensing agreement, and Hewlett-Packard agreed to pay EMC Corporation $325 million or to buy that amount of EMC Corporation products within five years.
See Also: Infringing Intellectual Property Rights and Copyright; Intellectual Property (IP); Intellectual Property Rights and Copyright Infringement.
In Brief. HP and EMC Settle Patent Infringement Case. The Globe and Mail, May 5, 2005, p. B25; Keyt, R. Notorious Cybersquatter Liable for $500,000 Under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. [Online, September 2, 2003.] Richard Keyt Website. http://www.keytlaw.com/urls/zuccarini.htm; Nolo, Inc. Trademarks and Copyright. [Online, 2004.] Nolo Website. http://www.nolo.com/lawcenter/ency/index.cfm/catID/804B85E3- 9224-47A9-A7E6B5BD92AACD48; Patent Enforcement and Royalties, Ltd. (Pearl). All About Patents: What is Intellectual Property? [Online, February 13, 2002.] Pearl Website. http://www .pearlltd.com/content/all_about_patents.html.