Businesses digitizing during COVID face IP and ADA legislation

Businesses digitizing during COVID face IP and ADA legislation


Recent statistics posted by Sweor states that 75% of consumers allow their credibility to be judged based on the design of their website...

During COVID, many companies were forced to digitize their entire business model, relying on websites and other online platforms to maintain employee, revenue and market share.

As a result, companies need to invest considerable time and resources to make their website a significant source of revenue (and need to continue for the foreseeable future). Business risk and debt?

This month, lawyers Angela Doughty, CIPP / US, Peter McClelland, CIPP / US, and Erica Rogers discussed how businesses can avoid website compliance issues and legal costs, including ADA compliance proceedings. Privacy Impact and Disclosure; Trademark and Copyright Requests.

ADA Compliance Proceedings – Angela Douty, CIPP / USA

Most businesses are surprised to learn about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This law was enacted to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities. place It is open to the public and applies to websites and other digital platforms such as mobile sites and mobile applications. The applicability of ADA to online accommodation allows people with disabilities (blindness / amblyopia, hearing loss / hearing loss, motor restriction, etc.) to access the same level of online content and services as everyone else. That is.

ADA’s website compliance proceedings are surprisingly regular and are expected to increase as consumers become increasingly dependent on websites and mobile applications to do business. Execution cases span a number of industries, including real estate (Zillow®), retail (Banana Republic®), entertainment (Beyonce), and restaurants (Domino’s Pizza®), with several well-known and well-defended defendants. Can be mentioned. Federal fines and compulsory ADA compliance.

There are many proceedings regarding website accessibility, but there are no legal standards that directly set out specific requirements. However, there is a set of private industry standards developed by technology and accessibility experts, called the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (“WCAG”), which are widely adopted, including federal agencies. The current guidelines are WCAG 2.1 GuidelinesAnd three levels of accessibility (A, AA, and AAA accessibility).

WCAG does not require the use or inclusion of specific technologies such as amplifying words or providing an audible version of the content for compliance. Instead, the compliance requirement is for enterprises to provide websites and other digital platforms that implement the four principles of WCAG. Healthy Enough to operate user agents and assistive technologies (eg web browsers and screen reader software), (ii) equally Perceptible (For example, alternative text for non-text content such as captions), (iii) Easily Operation possible (For example, keyboard-only accessible features), and (iv) understandable (for example, the text is easy to read and understand).

We strongly recommend that you regularly work with marketing professionals and other service providers who specialize in accessibility compliance testing of the technical aspects of your website. Enterprises should also incorporate regular compliance testing and evaluation of their websites, especially as updates and features are added.

Privacy Impact and Disclosure – Peter McClellaland, CIPP / USA

Thousands of personal information has been exposed to criminals, spurring large-scale data breaches, and now all states across the country have some form of regulation detailing corporate requirements after a data breach. Is being formulated. Such data breaches can result from business email breaches, ransomware, hacking, or accidental disclosure of information to unauthorized third parties. These violations can have serious consequences, including statutory fines, class action proceedings, and regulatory actions.

Some states have created more generalized privacy laws for organizations that retain personal information about state residents with internal requirements (such as when information can be used for targeted advertising) and customer requirements (content content). Etc.) are both imposed. Website privacy notice). For example, California requires organizations to disclose information that websites collect about California residents, regardless of the location of the collecting organization. California law also requires a privacy notice stating the purpose of the collection, the third party to which the organization transfers the information, and so on. In 2023, California will enforce additional requirements, including the requirements for an annual audit of your organization’s cybersecurity practices.

Also in 2023, Virginia law came into force, applying some similar disclosure requirements to organizations that process or use information about Virginia residents, and multiple times of data that the Virginia General Assembly considers to be high-risk. It adds a requirement to perform a data protection assessment before use. To consumers. Organizations that process Virginia’s consumer personal information are subject to that requirement and need to develop compliance strategies for new legal situations. Dozens of states, including North Carolina, have similar legislation in their legislatures.

Gaining expertise is important in developing a website compliance strategy. Discuss website compliance needs with a lawyer who is also a lawyer Certification Information Privacy Expert (CIPP / US) helps companies navigate patchwork of obligations that may apply.

Trademark and Copyright Requests – Erica Rogers

Application of trademark and copyright law to websites
Intellectual property law affects all businesses, whether or not they are known to the owner of the business. Specific trademark rights are created when the name is used in connection with the goods or services of your business. Certain copyrights occur as soon as the website is created or updated.

If the creation and use of intellectual property is not properly handled, these same day-to-day business activities can also pose serious legal problems.

  1. Is your product name or company name available?

  2. Is the corresponding domain name available?

  3. Do you own the copyright of the website material?

Trademark request
Internet marketing and search engine analysis are relatively new issues for trademark owners. For example, keyword advertising, cybersquatting, or misuse of a trademark in HTML code that displays a trademark on an advertising banner can all cause initial confusion and damage the brand’s reputation. To avoid this type of infringement, we recommend that you avoid the use of technology that involves unfair competitive advertising with third parties on a case-by-case basis. Competitive advertising can be legal, but only under limited circumstances where the claim has been substantiated and the association has been denied. To address this type of breach, we generally recommend that you consider the following on a case-by-case basis: (a) Send an invoice to the infringer. (b) File a complaint with your search engine provider. (c) Purchase your trademark keywords before your competitors.Or (d) use UDRP complaints To deal with unauthorized registration of Internet domain names.

Copyright request
If your website design, photos, text, or other creative work is not original content, it is imperative for your business to ensure that you have explicit permission to use them.

Companies often use third-party graphic designers to help develop their website. Even in such cases, the company must ensure that each designer or design company transfers all intellectual property rights to the company. If such an allocation is not possible, then given the leverage, at least an exclusive license to use the work is recommended. That way, other businesses will not be able to take advantage of virtually similar website designs.

In any case, the best way to avoid piracy claims in the future is to have a written agreement to address the intellectual property provisions. Similarly, the website’s Terms of Service are good for explaining what your business will do if you are allegedly infringing.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, challenges and risks remain for website owners, even when websites prove to be a blessing for many companies. Please contact us to understand these challenges and risks and avoid them in the future.

© 2021 Word and Smith, PA. all rights reserved.Domestic Law Review, Vol. XI, No. 148

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