The internet is huge library full of information, consisting of book full of ideas and inventions. More often than not, we are unaware of all the things available, and for companies seeking innovation this can pose problems, especially in regard to patenting and trademarking.
Therefore, we speak with Eleni Kokkini, a Senior Associate at PPT Legal, on concerning aspects her clients are often unaware about, and how she expects the world of IP to change, given the development of Blockchain and AI.
What are important compliance issues that clients are often unaware about regarding IP and websites? One of the usual mistakes that clients make is that they confuse the rights acquired through domain name registrations with trademark rights. They often believe that the Greek domain name authorities check the .gr domain name to be registered for conflicts with prior rights. This often leads to inadvertent infringements of third party trademarks. In addition, many internet users and website owners believe that just because they get material and content on the internet, that this material is in the public domain.
How can disregarding such issues cause problems? Website owners may be held liable for the infringement of trademark rights or other rights, such as International Nonproprietary Names for Pharmaceutical Substances, geographical indications or trade names. Further, their perception of content found on the internet as belonging to the public domain, may lead to copyright infringement, as well as infringement of publicity and private rights. It must be noted that websites are common targets for lawsuits, due to the visibility of content on the internet. On the other hand, the same visibility makes website owners more vulnerable to becoming victims of infringements, or even losing their IP rights. It is therefore important to know which elements of a website may be protected, under which laws and how.
Since the rise of e-commerce, what new issues and problems did clients face? How did you advise them through such issues? One of the most significant issues that clients need to face when doing business in Greece, especially in the e-commerce sector, are the frequent changes in the Greek legislation. For example, a formerly existing requirement for e-commerce businesses to get registered in the Greek Business Registry and provide full identity details of both the business entity and its representatives, that had been introduced in 2014, was abolished recently with effect as of 18 March 2018. What we do in order to protect our clients, is send them short notices with significant changes, which we believe that may affect their business.
How do you expect to see the world of IP in the upcoming years? New technologies, such as blockchain and artificial intelligence, create shorter cycles of innovation that companies have to keep up with. Companies will have to optimise their procedures, in order to launch new products in a more speedy and efficient manner and file new trademarks, designs and patents more quickly. This need may put excessive pressure on national and regional patent and trademark offices as well, that will have, in turn, to find ways to keep pace with this increasing need.
Is there anything you would like to add?
It is very important for businesses to consult a specialised IP and internet attorney, before going online or launching a new product or service either online or offline. As with any undertaking, prevention is better than cure. This applies to an even more significant extent to intellectual property rights, where the time factor is very important. Furthermore, clients should always keep in mind that doing business in an increasingly global economy may be challenging due to language barriers and different legal systems. Nevertheless, seeking expert advice and working closely with reliable legal partners is a key element to success.
Eleni Kokkini, LLM (Heidelberg)
Eleni Kokkini joined the law firm PPT Legal in October 2017, after a period of nine years working for a specialised IP boutique law firm in Athens. In her new position as Head of the IP law department of the firm, she brought her long experience acquired in this field.
The advantage of working with PPT Legal is the ability to take a multidisciplinary approach to today’s emerging issues in intellectual property and commercial law, as it is a full service commercial and civil law practice.