PARIS – If the new technology has created opportunities it has also created legal problems and affected the way credit unions and all businesses operate. Because the Internet knows no borders, things like trademark issues can become major problems, said Eugenia Carter, an attorney with LaFollette, Godfrey and Kahn who addressed attendees at WOCCU’s Fifth Annual Credit Union Leadership Institute in a standing room-only session. Large companies, for example, can have people on the ground in countries where they trade, but smaller countries might find that their trademark is also valid for another firm in South Africa. North America, Carter said is the most wired for e-commerce with the Asia-Pacifican countries and Western Europe trailing behind. Latin America and the rest of the world will have less than 2.3% of the e-commerce in 2004. Since e-commerce is borderless and potentially anonymous, it represents a massive audience. Therein lies its challenges to the legal system. The only way to solve the problems is through “incremental coverage of international consumer protection laws,” Carter said. She also sees a future where “cross-border judgments recognition and enforcement” will be necessary. Carter referred attendees to a Web site for consumer protection in the global electronic Equally there are opportunities derived from e-commerce. When the United States Congress recognized the need to have electronic records and signatures in interstate or foreign commerce, it opened the way for many new services. The act signed by former president Bill Clinton went into effect Oct. 1, 2000 and stated, “that the validity and legal effect of an electronic signature, contract or record related to a transaction affecting interstate or foreign commerce may not be denied solely because it is an electronic format. Retention of contracts, checks, records and whatever other documents becomes a major issue.” -

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