For years, intellectual property rights have been one of the most difficult and complicated areas of law to police. As the world shrinks in size and technology advances, the ability to copy intellectual property rights and distribute illegal material gets much easier. Now, with the advent of the Internet, a person can have their intellectual property rights violated with just a few clicks of a mouse. Major corporations such as Disney spend millions of dollars every year chasing down various leads they receive from concerned fans who have seen various cartoon and movie characters used in ways not becoming of their creators. As technology for stealing intellectual property rights advances, there is also technology in the works to help people secure their intellectual property rights, as well.
As the full potential of the Internet has been realized over the past ten years, a race has broken out between various companies whose goal it is to provide the best digital security to protect the intellectual property rights of individuals, companies and government. One of the most promising pieces of technology is known as a digital watermark. Much like a chemical watermark that helps to protect a piece of printed intellectual property, a digital watermark helps a person keep track of who is using their intellectual property and who is stealing it.
The technology behind digital watermarks is ingenious. With every digital piece of media placed on the Internet, including music, images and text, there are tiny encoded pieces of information that can notify its owner if it is copied or used by another person on another computer. These tiny bits of information are almost impossible to separate from the piece of intellectual property it is trying to protect, and thanks to continued advancements in technology, many digital watermarks will distort or render the piece of intellectual property it is protecting useless or unreadable if a hacker does manage to find a way to remove the watermark. The digital watermark can even help a intellectual property right owner determine if the person who is using their material has paid for it.
Obviously, as most technology is on the Internet, this advancement is very new and is still in various stages of development, but it does provide the intellectual property right owner a degree of hope that was absent before.
If you have recently trademarked a piece of intellectual property and you aren’t sure how to safely distribute your property on the Internet, a good place to start is with an intellectual property lawyer that has a good working knowledge of the Internet and the ever changing laws and regulations that govern it. It is also a good idea to find a lawyer that has express knowledge of international intellectual property laws since the Internet allows for instant world wide access to anything that you might have created. Currently, there are several companies working on various digital watermark solutions that no doubt will become the industry standard in the coming years.