Technology Law Basics

The growth of information technology law, including use of the Internet, and the borderless nature of cyberspace highlight the need to balance the provision of information (and related computer hardware and software) with the protection of individuals and businesses that create and use it. This has led to the emergence of a whole new area of law commonly referred to as technology law, but also known as computer technology law and internet laws.

Types of Technolgy Law

At first glance the term "technology law" can mean different things to different people. For example, some take it to mean law related to computer internet usage, others take it to mean communications laws, and still others think of it in terms of laws pertaining to inventions, like online copyrights, online trademarks and online patents. To make matters even less clear, all of these views are correct.

Broadly speaking, technology law comprises the subset of all areas of the law that apply to technology. For example, contract law applies to most business transactions that take place every day, but the subset of contract law that pertains to software licensing agreements is seen as a part of technology law. Similarly, trademarks are a standard part of business law, but understandings about what makes a trademark generic or descriptive in the world of technology is a part of technology law.

Technology Law and Intellectual Property

Indeed, one of the most prominent areas of technology law at present concerns issues related to intellectual property and the internet rights. With the widespread growth of Internet usage worldwide, protecting copyright interests is becoming particularly problematic. For example, downloading music and video files from the Internet has given rise to both litigation and the creation of new statutes and regulations in recent years. Similarly, the rising number of e-books and articles available on the Web has highlighted the need for more effective ways to protect the copyright interests of authors.

While the body of law pertaining to technology is intertwined with just about all other areas of the law, there is a tendency to set it aside conceptually, because this area requires unique skills and a body of knowledge that other areas do not. Specifically, applying the law to technological endeavors requires a substantial knowledge of technology as well as an understanding of how the law affects technology. It also requires a commitment to keep abreast of rapid changes in technology and the equally rapid changes that are taking place in the law affecting it.

Thus, a technology lawyer is a qualified attorney who has a substantial knowledge of technology and chooses to focus his or her practice in this area, just as other attorneys might choose to focus on family law, criminal law or business law. Because technology attorneys stay abreast of relevant federal and state laws as well as court decisions that pertain to technology, they are well placed to answer questions about the law and provide clients with advice about how it applies to particular situations. Of course, it should be noted that an attorney may serve as a patent agent before the United States Patent and Trademark Office only if he or she is specifically certified to do so.

For more information about technology law, or if you are facing legal issues regarding internet or technology laws, consult with a technology lawyer near you to discuss your case.

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