Information Technology and Ethics/Intellectual Property Issues


Plagiarism is the act of stealing someone's ideas or works and passing them off as your own. Since there has been a boom in the amount of content, it is easier to cut and paste pieces of information into a paper or report. There are also websites where you may order papers. In order to combat plagiarism problems teachers and professors have begun programs that will detect plagiarism. Schools have begun different technique to combat plagiarism:

  • Help students identify and understands what constitutes plagiarism. Help them understand how why they should properly cite websites and other sources.
  • Reduce the likelihood students would copy others work by having pieces due of the term.
  • Inform students about plagiarism detection services.

Reverse EngineeringEdit

Reverse engineering is the process of taking something apart in order to understand, build and copy it. Reverse engineering may be considered unethical, it enables an organization to access the copyrighted and/or trade secrets of a company.

Open Source CodeEdit

Open source code refers to any available source code program in the public domain that can be shared, used, or modified by anyone. It is aimed at improving software programs by adding features and fixing bugs through collaboration. It also provides better solutions for specific problems at little or no cost. Open software developers’ intent is to make profits from software services and support instead of the software itself.[1]

Competitive IntelligenceEdit

Competitive intelligence is legally obtained information used to improve a company's performance over its competitors. It is often integrated into a company strategic plan. Effective competitive intelligence requires continual gathering, analysis, and evaluation of data to enhance the decision-making process. If it is not handled properly, it leads to industrial espionage which carries heavy penalties. The competitive intelligence analysts should avoid unethical or illegal behaviors associated with the concept of competitive intelligence such as lying, theft, bribery, misrepresentation, or eavesdropping.[2]

Trademark InfringementEdit

Trademark infringement is the unauthorized use of an identical or similar trademark or service mark that cause confusion and deception in a manner that impairs the function of a registered trademark. It is used to deceive consumers about the actual source of the products or services, which is especially common for popular brands. A lawsuit in trademark infringement leads to an injunction to prevent further infringement.[3] For registered trademark infringement, the Lanham Act awards monetary damages to the plaintiff, based on the loss of sales profits that occurred while the trademark was being illegally used. Criminal remedies are offered in some jurisdictions as well.[4]


Cybersquatting is the act of registering domain names with the intent of profiting from selling these domains that are similar to company names or famous trademarks. It is also known as “domain squatting." Since the domain names can only be registered once, it is unethical for a person to benefit from obtaining domain names similar to the company name or trademark because it forces the company to either pay or litigate.[5] For example, an individual is cybersquatting if he/she registers a domain name called,, or, in hopes to gain profits from selling that domain to XYZ company. The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA), enacted in 1999, is a law that has been endorsed by Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to defend against any illegal cybersquatting action or actions.[6]

  1. George W. Reynolds : ETHICS IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY, Third Edition, 2010.
  2. George W. Reynolds : ETHICS IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY, Third Edition, 2010.
  3. CHAPTER 7. EFFECTS OF TRADEMARKS. Section 1. General Remarks.
  4. International Trademark Association: Trademark Basics. A Guide for Business.
  5. Justin Graham, Ashley Johnson, Emilio Mena, Neil Wolitzer : CYBERSQUATTING: THE LATEST CHALLENGE IN FEDERAL TRADEMARK PROTECTION, 2001
  6. George W. Reynolds : ETHICS IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY, Third Edition, 2010.