‘Intellectual property’ (or ‘IP’) is an umbrella term that is used as shorthand to describe a variety of diverse doctrines that create legally-enforceable monopolies over the use of or access to ideas, information and knowledge. As the Internet is essentially a structure through which such material can be presented, organised, transmitted and disseminated, IP is a key area of law that is used to regulate activity on the Internet. The pervasive significance of this becomes clear when one considers that much of the hardware that forms the framework of computer networks that comprise the Internet, and almost all of the data carried through these networks and linked via the World Wide Web, are—or have been in the past—subject to regulation by IP laws.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Trademark Law: Trademarks are signs that distinguish the goods and/or services of one trader from those of another. Trademark law is an IP doctrine that allows proprietors to prevent others from using identical or similar signs with respect to identical or similar goods or services in a commercial setting.
Intellectual Property Law: A group of legal doctrines (including copyright, trademark and patent laws) that regulate the use of ideas, information and knowledge by creating artificial monopolies around them and providing proprietors with legally-enforceable rights with respect to them.
ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers): A private, not-for-profit corporation with responsibility for assigning Internet Protocol addresses and other Internet signifiers such as Domain Names. ICANN coordinates the management of Domain Names.
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO): A United Nations agency that administers international treaties relating to various aspects of IP law in 183 member states. Its stated objectives are the worldwide promotion of IP, and preventing erosion of existing IP law standards.
Copyright Law: An IP doctrine that gives proprietors of artistic, literary, dramatic and musical works, and their derivatives, a legally-enforceable monopoly over the copying of those materials.
Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs): Legally enforceable monopolies that proprietors can use to monopolise use of or access to ideas, information and knowledge.
Patent Law: An IP doctrine that provides a temporary monopoly to exclude others from using a registered invention.
Intellectual Property (IP): 1. The subject-matter monopolised by IP proprietors under IP law. 2. The regulatory system created by IP law.