Law Blog

Intellectual Property

Posted by on Jun 7, 2018 in Blog Post | 0 comments

Economic and cultural progress in America has long been driven by creation of intellectual property (“IP”) and protecting the creators’ rights. Fundamentally, rights to IP is the idea that you have the right to the creations of your own mind. In fact, this is promised to all American citizens in the 1st Article of the U.S. Constitution, which states “the progress of science and useful arts” is ensured “by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writing and discoveries.” This takes shape in the form of patents, copyright, trademarks, and trade secrets. Each is designed to protect a slightly different facet of intellectual property. Patents protect inventions, discoveries, or new processes developed by a person or organization. Copyright protects an original work, such as artwork or a novel, for the author. Trademarks represent distinctive logos, symbols, or phrases, which are used to distinguish between separate entities or products. Lastly, trade secrets protect confidential information about a particular process, method, or design.

The Right to Privacy vs. the Right to Know

Posted by on May 23, 2018 in Blog Post | 0 comments

In Montana, an individual’s right to privacy is balanced carefully with the public’s right to know. The Montana constitution promises to protect the right of every citizen to “examine documents,” meaning the government, as a default, should not hide documents from the public (e.g. court document, meeting minutes, deeds, etc.). However, this right sometimes collides with an individual’s right to privacy. In a recent case, Krakauer vs. Montana, the state’s Supreme Court weighed this very issue and determined that practices like redacting private information from a document can be a way to resolve the friction. Protecting both citizen’s right to know and their right to privacy is critically important and yet still difficult to reconcile.


Online Privacy

Posted by on May 1, 2018 in Blog Post | 0 comments

A recent study from the Pew Research Center shows that 91% of Americans feel they’ve lost control of their personal information online (Raine, 2016). With so much of our lives online now days, everything from school to banking to social media, it is easy to see why so many feel this way. However, as last week’s explanation of the Fair Information Practices (FIP) shows, all Americans still have a significant amount of control over information that is collected about them online, if they choose to exercise their rights. Even tech giants such as Google and Facebook comply with the FIP regulations as well as other industry best practices, such as data protection or privacy policies, and international law, such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or Canada’s Anti-Spam legislation (CASL). Protecting your data online can be as simple as adjusting the privacy setting on your accounts to specify what information, if any, you feel comfortable being collected.


Rainie, L. (2016, September 21). The state of privacy in post-Snowden America. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from

Privacy Guidelines

Posted by on Apr 23, 2018 in Blog Post | 0 comments

The Federal Trade Commission’s Fair Information Practices (FIP) has been one of the most impactful documents for establishing privacy guidelines. It is built on five core principles.

  1. Notice: This means an organization must disclose their information practices to users in some way before collecting any data.
  2. Consent: This allows customers to choose how their data will be used. These first two, notice and consent, are core principles of FIP, and many of us encounter them on a daily basis. For example, every time you link an account or a new app to your Facebook profile, you are notified as to what information will be accessed on your profile and you must grant permission before you can continue.
  3. Access: This enables users to review or contest the accuracy of their information that has been collected.
  4. Security: This requires organizations collecting information to uphold security measures to ensure that customer information is safe and accurate.
  5. Enforcement: FIP includes some elements of enforcement to ensure legal remedies for violations of the fair information practices.

The information in this blog post was gathered from:  Laudon, K. C. (n.d.). Management Information Systems (15th ed., Vol. 2.0). Pearson. 2017.

The Right to Privacy

Posted by on Apr 16, 2018 in Blog Post | 0 comments

Many Americans hold a strong belief in their own right to privacy. However, what exactly constitutes privacy and what we are guaranteed under the law is not always so clear. Although the right to privacy is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, it has its origin the 1st Amendment, guaranteeing the right of free speech and association, and the 4th Amendment, our guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure. On the national level, the right to privacy is outlined by the Federal Trade Commission’s Fair Information Practices (originally published in 1973). These establish commonly accepted standards for privacy and the collection of information.
Montana residents are ensured even greater protection of their right to privacy than the average U.S. citizen. Montana is one of ten states that specifically address this right in their constitution. Montana recognizes that the protection of the right to privacy is essential for maintaining a free society. Next week, we’ll go into more detail about what elements of privacy are protected under the law.