IP and E-Commerce: Four Key Challenges
The dawn of the internet has greatly changed how businesses operate. In the last 10 years, the increasingly digital society has defined the relationship between a business and its customers. Online shopping, which was once deemed to be a niche practice, has now effectively replaced direct stores in terms of customer preference. In short, E-Commerce has become the norm.
As we all know, conducting a business is nearly inseparable from Intellectual Property. Entrepreneurs would utilize or encounter many IP regimes—from trademarks to product designs, trade secrets, and others.
Therefore, it’s crucial for business owners to adapt to the digital world in all aspects, not excluding the protection of their valuable IPs. Here are four key challenges that must be understood in regard to IP and e-commerce:
- Online Infringement: The crux of all problems regarding IP and e-commerce lies in the often elusive nature of the digital world. The internet has done wonders in giving businesses a massive and readily accessible platform. However, this also means that there is a greater opportunity for IPs to be infringed. The internet has allowed for easy, widespread violations, thus making it difficult for IP owners to enforce their rights effectively.
- Platform Providers: Entrepreneurs would commonly conduct their business in an established online platform. Each platform providers have different approaches to handling IP protection. Some might have a lax attitude and are hesitant to take action, while others might employ a strict policy. It’s important for business owners to choose the right provider as their cooperation would greatly help the effective enforcement of IP rights.
- Grey Markets: E-Commerce has made it much easier for Grey Markets to thrive. A grey market is the trade of a commodity through distribution channels that are not authorized by the original manufacturer or trademark proprietor. In the context of e-commerce, it refers to the legal sale of a product in one country, which is later sold in another country without the permission of the IP owner or manufacturer. This presents a number of challenges for IP owners. Losing control over distribution and sales could cause many unwanted problems, such as competition with authorized distributors, lack of quality control which could harm the brand's reputation, and so forth.
- New Tech: Of course, simply conducting an online business is not the peak of technological advancement we must adapt to. In the digital space, new tech is constantly being developed that imposes unique threats to our IP protection. The most current example of this is Artificial Intelligence. AI is a remarkable advance technology that has provided many unprecedented challenges to society. Regarding IP protection and e-commerce, AI’s algorithm has been known to scan online databases to generate their content. This means that AI could infringe your IPs that are available online to make similar, knock-off products.
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