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Top Ten Internet Legal Mistakes-No Written Policies

1. No Written Policies

Liability: Many companies float along without any specific written policies regarding website use and appropriate procedures for intellectual property protection. The main reason companies fail to put down a policy in writing is the same reason a written policy is so valuable. Once you write a policy down, you have committed yourself to the actions outlined therein. It is easy to constantly change an unwritten policy to fit the circumstances.

By the time a problem does arise, it may be too late to correct it. Time wasted determining the appropriate procedures may lead to an irreversible loss of intellectual property or expose a company to punitive damages associated with willful infringement. Eleventh hour attempts to formalize a written policy are unlikely to contain the vast amounts of liability the policy was designed to avoid altogether.

Solution: Companies need detailed written policies and procedures before a problem arises. Writing the policies is much easier than you might think. Although appropriate policies will vary from company to company, the foregoing nine issues are a good place to start when constructing a general policy outline. From the outline, you can incorporate strategies and key provisions, detailing proper reporting and administrative procedures.

Your company must follow the policy closely, but constantly be on the lookout for ways to improve and adopt the policy to new technologies. Treat your written policy as a living document. Periodically review and update your policy to address changes in the corporate information technology structure, as well as changes in the intellectual property portfolio. Enlist the assistance of a qualified information technology attorney to adapt a policy framework to your particular business and website. A qualified attorney can also assist in continually modifying your policies and procedures to limit loss, increase efficiency and avoid unnecessary litigation.

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