Many new tools have been introduced onto the Web over the years thanks to e-commerce. Of course, we all know services that used to be performed in person or through snail mail, such as making utility payments, applying for loans, and ordering all types of goods, can easily be performed on-line. Banks and retailers were some of the first to take advantage of this exchange revolution. Today, on-line shopping carts, gift baskets, and “clickable” items are the norm. What happens if someone created a new way of doing business with a new type of “clickable” widget to deliver a prime product to a customer?
Businesses routinely pay royalties for the use of intellectual property on widgets created by companies and individuals. Although some argue that patents on Web techniques and e-commerce methods stifle innovation, most agree the developers deserve compensation for their work. Before marketing or using an idea on the Web, it is prudent to get advice about the venture to ensure there has been no unintentional copyright infringement.
Legally, developers must realize that widely used techniques used in software might actually belong to someone whether the owners act on them or not. Although researching patents to ensure there is no unlawful use of a product, property, or idea adds a bit of complexity to the design process, it is heavily outweighed by the financial impact of a lawsuit. It is important to always consult the advice of a legal expert before publishing anything on a site.
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