Staking Your Co-op's Claim on the Internet Protecting Your Intellectual Property

Co-op and condo boards are charged with maximizing the value of their shareholders' and unit-owners' real estate investments. Year after year, these boards diligently replace aging equipment, refurbish lobbies, clear up code violations, and otherwise do everything that they can to protect and enhance the value of their real estate. They properly pay attention to all potential liabilities and act diligently to protect their legal interests in everything from landlord-tenant matters to real estate taxes to construction issues.

Still, as New York enters the 21st century, most boards have not yet fully come to grips with how to take advantage of the Internet, either not realizing its potential for them, or not having adequate knowledge of how to enhance and protect their rights on the Internet.

As the modern era forces intellectual property and real property to merge, boards will be challenged more and more to accurately assess the value of the Internet for their shareholders and unit owners and to take prudent steps to protect and develop their internet presence. Although not litigated as yet, a reasonable argument could be made that boards that do not act conscientiously in this electronic arena may be held to have been negligent and breached their duties to their shareholders or unit owners.

Internet Use for Co-ops and Condos

More and more, co-ops and condos are looking for a presence on the Web, and for good reasons. Properly implemented, the Web can provide a cost-effective method for communicating with shareholders.

A Web site can also be used for posting frequently-requested information like prospectuses or recycling schedules, to post dates and times of committee meetings, to distribute newsletters, complaint forms and other information needed by building occupants. Of course, it can also be used for marketing purposes to help brand the co-op or condo and publicize it to potential apartment purchasers and brokers.

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