Lawyer calls for 'cybermarks'

Alison Laferla reports

Intellectual property lawyer David Flint is calling for the creation of "cybermarks" to clarify the position of trade marks published on the internet.

Flint, a partner in the intellectual property and technology law group at Glasgow firm MacRoberts, describes cybermarks as "a form of right akin to a trade mark for use in relation to items published on the internet".

He would like to see an international treaty regulating the issue so that a company registering a name in one country could publish it on the Net without the threat of being sued for breach of copyright by someone in another country.

"As increasing numbers of businesses take to the Net the potential for infringement of trade marks grows," said Flint. "A cybermark is urgently required if the Net is to reach its full commercial potential."

He said the current trade mark registration systems were inadequate because they did not give worldwide coverage and did not deal with the question of clashing registered rights. He added that only large companies can afford to register their trade marks globally, leaving many clients vulnerable to litigation.

Flint is liaising with the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the European Commission on the issue.

"We are still working on how exactly this would work," he said. "But the international community must act now to prevent information superhighwaymen stifling the development on the Internet."