PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) has just released its Global State of Information Security Survey, which says that corporate spending on data security will increase sharply in the coming years. ComputerWeekly.com reports that more than half of respondents to the PWC survey say that their companies plan to spend more on technological defences against security breaches, an increase of 14% from last year. The survey also reveals that the impact of security breaches is growing. According to ComputerWeekly.com “the number of companies reporting financial losses from data breaches increased 6% in the past year to 20%, up from only 8% in 2008. Intellectual property theft has increased to effect 15% of companies reporting data breaches, up from just 5% in 2008. An increase in the number of sophisticated attacks aimed at stealing information from specific companies is also driving increased security spending according to the Financial Times.”
The PWC survey demonstrates that spending is shifting to monitoring of company networks, at a time when more employees are bringing their own PDA’s and computers into the workplace. But as PWC states, businesses should be making employees the first line of defence against data leaks.
The PWC survey and commentary serves as a reminder of the need to focus resources for data security (and privacy law compliance) strategically. This means investing in technological safeguards but it should mean investing in privacy training for your staff. It’s an important point because so many of the privacy breaches these days result from mistakes, or human error, by one’s own employees. I’d suggest that you compare your organization’s line item for network monitoring with your line item (if it exists) for privacy training. Are your privacy risk mitigation efforts as strategic as they could be?
Rock legend Eddie Van Halen, best known as the lead guitarist of Van Halen, is reportedly taking legal action against Nike over the alleged use of his signature guitar color scheme on Nike’s new Nike Dunk runners. Van Halen had the red, white and black splattered design most commonly associated with his “frankenstrat” guitar copyrighted in 2001. Van Halen is claiming that the Nike shoes are damaging his image and “causing irreparable harm and damage” to his design. Nike has refuted the allegations and stated that “the Dunk shoe design is not substantially similar to any of the Van Halen designs, and Nike has not referenced the Van Halen name or image as part of any marketing campaign or promotional material associated with the shoe.” Interestingly, Van Halen recently released his own shoe line called or EVH shoes, which feature the recognizable pattern.
This case is noteworthy because it demonstrates the importance of intellectual property rights and how some protect such assets. Having a copyright gives Van Halen the right to control how his design can or cannot be used. Intellectual property rights allow owners to protect their assets against infringement and defend their rights in court. A successful claim may result in monetary damages, an injunction from the use of the infringing material or destruction of the infringing material. Van Halen is taking advantage of the court process by claiming damages and the destruction of all products associated with the Nike Dunk runners. On the other hand, lawsuits can be expensive and that in order to infringe the materials have to be substantially similar. It’s questionable whether the Nike Dunks bare a substantial similarity to Van Halen’s guitar design. Remember the high profile decision between The Wyrd Sisters, a Winnipeg folk group, and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. that saw the band lose a considerable amount of money (including $140,000 in costs) when the judge ruled that the band’s name would not be confused with a band in one of the Harry Potter movies.
Finally, Van Halen may be “running with the devil” and inviting himself up to his own copyright infringement lawsuit. The EVH shoe line has been argued by some as bearing a striking resemblance to Converse All-Stars, a company that just happens to be owned by – you guessed it – Nike.
I was delighted to learn that IP Osgoode has named this blog the “Pick of the Week”!
IP Osgoode at Osgood Hall Law School in Toronto is a new, independent and authoritative voice which explores legal governance issues at the intersection of intellectual property (IP) and technology. If you haven’t yet visited the IP Osgoode website, I would encourage you to do so as it contains some great content.
If you are also interested in finding additional resources, you may want to visit the Nymity website. Of particular interest, the Nymity website has a section dedicated to recent privacy breaches and recent privacy studies. Finally, you may also want to visit the Canadian Association of Professional Access and Privacy Administrators website.
Hope these links help!
You have probably seen the ® or ™ symbol on products or in advertisements. But what do these symbols mean and when is it appropriate to use them?
Generally, the ® or ™ symbols are used in connection with a trade-mark, which is a word, symbol or design used to distinguish the wares or services of one person or organization from those of others. Trade-marks can be valuable intellectual property.
The Trade-marks Act (Canada) (the “TM Act”) does not contain any marking requirements. However, trade-mark owners often indicate their registration through certain symbols, namely, ® (registered) or ™ (trade-mark). Although the TM Act does not require the use of these symbols, in Canada, the ™ and ® symbols may be used whether the trade-mark is registered or not. However, while this is not a requirement of the TM Act, the ® should be used only if the mark is registered with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. If the ® is used and the mark is not in fact registered, it may be possible for someone to argue its use amounts to false advertising. The ™ suggests the mark is not registered, but can help establish distinctiveness in the mark.
One should be especially careful using the ® outside in Canada. In certain jurisdictions, including the U.S., ® may only be used by the owner of a mark following registration with that jurisdiction’s trade-mark office. For example, if a Canadian company is marketing a product in the U.S. and its mark is not registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, it would not be able to use the ® in connection with its mark and could only use the ™, even if the company has been using ® in Canada all along.
Businesses should consider having their intellectual property “audited” by legal counsel with an expertise in the field and, in doing so, developing an appropriate trade-marks business strategy. When I advise my clients on trade-marks matters I often rely on the expert counsel of my friends and colleagues Jolin Spencer (whom I should thank for this blog post), Robert Watchman and Howard Nerman, all of whom have expertise in trade-marks law.
Earlier this year, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) announced that they will be opening up the generic Top Level Domain extensions (the “gTLDs”) to allow for personalized extensions. I could (for a mere US$185,000.00+) now apply for a .brian or even a .privacy. And while the chances of me starting a .brian are very slim, it will be interesting to see how many organizations pay the application fee and create their own .blank extension. Opening up the gTLDs will likely force trademark owners to evaluate their brand strategies and, in doing so, weigh the costs and benefits of buying any or all gTLDs related to their brand.
If you’re a trademark owner and you want to approach your strategy conservatively, then you may want to take a defensive position and register any of the gTLDs that relate to the business in which you’re engaged. The list of commercial gTLDs would include .com, .net., .info, .org, .tel, .biz, .mobi, .tv and any other TLDs that seem to have a commercial application. Additionally, you may want to register and maintain the country code domain names (ccTLDs) in the jurisdictions where your organization offers, or plans to offer, its products or services. Once this is completed, you should then register any known variations of your trademark.
While, in theory, this is a very effective strategy – in practice, this strategy will be more difficult to execute. For example, the owners of Lego currently own 450 domain names within the TLDs. They recently pursued and won a WIPO arbitration decision against a cybersquatter who had registered the domains Justlegos.com, legosonly.com, and onlylegos.com; illustrating that even the most vigilant defensive strategy for the registration of domains names cannot prevent all infringements. As such, any brand strategy should be accompanied by vigorous monitoring and enforcement. The decision about which TLDs to register is a business decision that must weigh the cost of brand enforcement from a defensive position and an offensive position.