As ecommerce matures, and new legislation comes into force, UK businesses are becoming more familiar with the legal issues surrounding ownership of an online presence.
A recent survey conducted by the Legal Research Group (LRG) on behalf of UK law firm Eversheds illustrates that concerns have shifted dramatically in recent years. Of particular concern to managers from the “IT, financial and other sectors” are the implications of The Copyright, etc and Trade Marks (Offences and Enforcement) Act 2002 and the UK Data Protection Act.
When asked what issues warranted seeking external legal advice, over two-thirds (68%) of respondents named copyright issues. Data protection was also a major concern, cited by 57% of respondents.
By contrast, a 2000 survey found that managers cited security and general contract concerns as the most common legal issues surrounding ecommerce, with data protection and copyright/intellectual property rights receiving very little attention.
According to Rex Parry, head of ecommerce at Eversheds: “In the beginning, everyone was worried about security – people hacking into web sites and defacing them. These days you are much more likely to be attacked through another web site, not your own; for example, by ‘cybersquatters’, who aim to register any name they think might be of commercial value, or ‘cybersmearers’ who launch online campaigns against individuals or companies.”