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IP law and the rise of e-commerce

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IP Commercialisation

E-commerce has given rise to faster and wider distribution of products and services

But increased exposure to marketplaces also means increased exposure to risks including IP theft.

Image of a street sign and traffic lights, the sign says e commerce

Photo by Mark König on Unsplash

By Dr Martin Douglas Hendry




As the world becomes increasingly digital, the importance of protecting intellectual property (IP) in the realm of e-commerce cannot be overstated. Large UK businesses must be aware of the legal frameworks surrounding IP and how they apply to the online world in order to safeguard their innovations and creations.

Firstly, it is essential to understand the different types of IP that can be protected online. These include:

  • Trademarks: These are symbols, words, or phrases that distinguish the goods or services of one business from another.
  • Copyrights: These protect original artistic and literary works, such as music, writing, and paintings.
  • Patents: These protect inventions and allow the owner to prevent others from making, using, or selling the invention without permission.
  • Trade secrets: These are confidential business information, such as recipes or algorithms, that provide a competitive advantage.

It is important for businesses to properly register and protect their IP in order to prevent others from infringing on their rights. In the UK, this can be done through the Intellectual Property Office, which offers registration and legal support for trademarks, copyrights, and patents.

Secondly, it is crucial for businesses to be aware of the legal frameworks surrounding IP in the digital world. In the UK, the main legislation governing IP online is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. This act establishes the rights of creators and sets out the legal remedies for infringement.

Additionally, the Digital Economy Act 2010 addresses issues such as online piracy and illegal file sharing. It provides for stricter enforcement of IP laws and gives IP rights holders the ability to seek court orders against websites that facilitate infringement.

Thirdly, businesses must be proactive in protecting their IP online. This involves regularly monitoring the web for potential infringement and taking action when necessary. This could include sending cease and desist letters, negotiating licensing agreements, or pursuing legal action.

It is also important for businesses to implement measures to prevent IP infringement within their own operations. This could include implementing strict confidentiality agreements with employees and partners, as well as implementing security measures to protect trade secrets and other sensitive information.





In conclusion, the rise of e-commerce has made the protection of IP more important than ever for large UK businesses. By understanding the different types of IP and the legal frameworks surrounding them, businesses can take steps to protect their innovations and creations in the digital world. This will not only safeguard their own interests but also support the growth of a vibrant and fair online marketplace.


Are you an e-commerce business in need of help with IP? Get in touch with our team by clicking the button below to learn how we can help your business.


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Look at our other guides that relate to this topic here.

How to enforce your intellectual property rights

The intersection of IP law and cybersecurity

Navigating the world of IP law: tips for businesses



Virtuoso Legal is a team of intellectual property specialists based in Leeds and London - operating worldwide. Virtuoso Legal's team of IP experts have successfully tried cases in the IPEC, High Court, Court of Appeals and United Kingdom Supreme Court. In addition, the team assist companies in creating, commercialising and protecting the big ideas that make their business unique. The firm and its professionals are ranked yearly in legal directories such as the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners, cementing their status as a Top 2% law firm in the world.

DISCLAIMER: The content within this post is for educational purposes only. Virtuoso Legal does not take any responsibility for those that use this information and waives any liability for any resulting effect on your personal or commercial circumstances. If you are experiencing an issue and need advice, we strongly encourage you to contact a solicitor to identify your best course of action.

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