Written on the 9 September 2011


WITH every new information technology developed to drive efficiencies and add value to corporations comes newfound security threats to consider. The effectiveness of simplistic loss prevention procedures fell when businesses ceased to exist as only brick and mortar structures.

Heading up Hynes Lawyers’ burgeoning ICT law division, partner Bill Singleton says the onset of integrated mobile tools including iPads and smart phones has heightened intellectual property (IP) risk.

“These technologies are platforms in which to build and use various applications, many of them very useful for business operations,” says Singleton.

“But these apps can be built in somebody’s garage and unless people are going to consider all the IP security issues there’s no telling how secure these programs are.

“A big law firm for example, is going to be very hesitant to bring on new digital technology without having their IT department fully investigate any information related risks that could be associated with using it.

“Big businesses have the resources and governance to assess and manage IP security issues but it’s the small businesses out there that are less likely to take the necessary steps to mitigate technology risks.”

As highlighted by Gadens Lawyers’ corporate advisory director Michael Wood, the level of human involvement in computer-generated databases continues to be just one pressing IP issue for all corporations.

Telstra is awaiting a date for its High Court hearing in its litigation against Phone Directories Company Pty Ltd, which duplicated Telstra’s $300 million phone directory with no legal consequences.

According to Wood, the ongoing case is a prime example of the need for modernised IP legislation to keep up with technological advancements.

“The major ramification for businesses is that their IP that is computer-generated can be taken and used by another company. In fact this was the direct outcome in the Telstra case,” says Wood.

“The legislation that has been in place for decades requires updating, but at the moment the only way to protect IP is to increase the human involvement. There certainly has been a lot of discussion about it but the underlying problem for business still remains.

“Businesses need to make that commercial decision: do they use computer systems to streamline data creation and gain the benefits of that efficiency; or do they increase human authorship to protect that information?”

Singleton says the Telstra IP case is ‘very complex’, but the underlying lesson for businesses is that more often than not, the technology comes well before the legal and operational mechanisms to protects its users – so stay one step ahead.

From real time job tracking and branded emails, to new integrated digital packages for small business – there’s plenty of exciting developments to be explored. However with change comes risk and attacks on information technologies are growing at an alarming rate. This month, we explore the sinister side of new technology and ask the question, are you protected? Get your copy of Gold Coast Business News August for the full IT and telco features – available in more than 450 newsagents.






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