Are Online Business Transactions Executed by Electronic Signatures Legally Binding?

By: Carl Carl, Corey Ciocchetti, Wes Barton & Nathan Christensen Most of us believe that we make contracts over the Internet all the time. We buy books and computers, arrange for hotels and planes, trade stocks, and apply for mortgages. But as recently as seven months ago that transaction was most likely not legally binding. This uncertainty led many practitioners, businesspeople, and consumers to question the efficacy of contracts executed by electronic signatures. Without a uniform standard, many jurisdictions ruled inconsistently, while other jurisdictions did not consider the issue. This disparate treatment threatened the legitimacy of online agreements and deprived both consumers and businesses of the certainty and predictability expected from well-developed markets. The law’s formalities evolved outside of the digital world, and the process of adapting them to it has proven to be more difficult than expected. In June of 2000, Congress attempted to solve this problem with the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-Sign). Download Full Article (PDF) Cite: 2001 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 0005

Internet Securities Fraud: Old Trick, New Medium

By: Brendon Fowler, Cara Franklin & Robert Hyde Billions of securities are traded every day in public and private markets around the world. This practice is hundreds of years old and as long as securities have been traded, someone has tried to defraud the system to make a quick buck. With the advent of the Internet, new securities fraud schemes have appeared. Download Full Article (PDF) Cite: 2001 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 0006

Offshore Offerings by Foreign Entities: How Far Will the SEC Reach to Regulate?

By: Melvina Carrick, Matthew Crane & Jennifer Hu Many countries’ regulatory regimes, including that of the United States, traditionally require registration of all investment services offers or securities sales to their citizens. Many have claimed that the Internet will make such financial regulation obsolete. With the advent of the new technology, regulatory bodies across the globe have been forced to redefine what constitutes an offer to purchase securities within their borders. They have come up with a variety of models for regulating cross-border capital flows. Even countries with similar legal traditions such as Britain, the US, and Australia have taken different approaches. Download Full Article (PDF) Cite: 2001 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 0007

The Fate of Gene Patents Under the New Utility Guidelines

By: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) recently finalized its patent utility guidelines. Promulgated by the PTO, the new guidelines will be used by patent examiners in determining whether a claimed invention should be awarded patent protection ;and will be used by patent applicants and attorneys who file patent applications. The guidelines focus primarily on the utility standards for gene and gene fragment patents, an issue that was featured in the PTO’s 1999 Revised Interim Utility Guidelines and has been the subject of considerable public debate. Download Full Article (PDF) Cite: 2001 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 0008

Cybersquatting: The Latest Challenge in Federal Trademark Protection

By: Justin Graham, Ashley Johnson, Emilio Mena & Neil Wolitzer The explosion in Internet technology in the past decade has drawn the Lanham Act into the realm of electronic commerce. Trademark owners seeking to register domain names have recently found themselves entwined in a number of disputes, such as disputes involving claims to multiple domain names and disputes over whether the domain name registration system is fairly administered. One important legal issue that has recently come to the fore is over the practice of cybersquatting. Today, courts must contend with the cybersquatter, a speculator who reserves trademarks as Internet domain names for the sole purpose of selling or licensing them back to trademark owners willing to pay a considerable price for their use. Complicating matters, the most potent weapons in the Government’s anticybersquatting arsenal–the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) and Federal Trademark Dilution Act (FTDA)–each give rise to grave constitutional concerns. Download Full Article (PDF) Cite: 2001 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 0009

ICANN: The Debate Over Governing the Internet

By: Kathleen E. Fuller Since its creation, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has been the subject of criticism and controversy. ICANN is a private non-profit corporation that operates under contract with the US Department of Commerce. It was created at the request of the government for the purpose of privatizing the Domain Name System (DNS), the addressing system on which the Internet depends. The creation of ICANN in 1998–what some have called cyberspace’s own “constitutional moment” — represented a substantial shift in power to control the Internet from government to private industry. Today, ICANN is facing a virtual revolt. Domain name registrars outside the US are protesting bills sent by ICANN (which help finance approximately 1/3 of ICANN’s $5 million budget), claiming they want either better representation or the ability to break away from ICANN and set up their own networks.Domestic registrars who recently applied for new top-level domain names (and who submitted non-refundable $50,000 application fees) have threatened legal action, claiming that ICANN’s process for approving new domains is unfair. And recently, Professor Michael Froomkin of the University of Miami School of Law published a seminal law review article questioning the very legality of ICANN’s