Inside Business: Building trust in the internet

ELECTRONIC commerce is repeatedly hailed as a revolution in business, most critically - so the gurus keep telling us - because it reduces the importance of size.

On the internet, they say, a small start-up can compete far more effectively with a well-known giant than it can in conventional conditions. After all, just look at how has taken on the established book trade.

But one of the key hurdles is concern about security. Consumers are worried that because they have often never physically met the people with whom they are expected to do business they have difficulty in assessing their bona fides. Equally, those operating websites are concerned that their trademarks and other intellectual property are vulnerable to abuse.

However, two events of the past week could go some way to allying such fears. First, the accountancy profession has developed a seal of approval.

The WebTrust service was developed in the US and Canada and has just been licensed for use here.

Chris Howard, who is overseeing it in England, sees the project, one of several being planned in the electronic commerce arena, as a natural extension of the profession's provision of what are now called "assurance services".

The seal is paid for by the website operators and a check to ensure that it meets certain standards - in terms of such areas as freedom from viruses, protection of confidential information and money-back guarantees where the customer is not satisfied - is carried out a regular intervals. Other sites are also checked to ensure that they are not carrying unauthorised seals.

Trademarks like the seal of approval are the concern of IP Warehouse. IP Warehouse is a Florida-based business set up by two lawyers, who had previously been computer engineers, with the intention of helping lawyers carry out research over the internet. Describing their operation as an "information brokerage", Frank Cona and Michael Palage quickly saw a need to help clients protect what were often substantial intellectual property assets on the net.

Key to this service is a software technology the business has developed under the name IP DragNet. This allows for a comprehensive search of the internet for infringements of IP rights.

Already in operation in the US, the package is being made available to UK clients - chiefly law firms and the legal departments of large companies - now as a result of the acquisition of IP Warehouse by Compulink Information eXchange (CIX), which claims to be the UK's longest-established online service provider.

Graham Davies, CIX's sales and marketing director, said that the deal announced last week formed a crucial part of the company's strategy. With preservation of intangible assets set to be a key issue of the digital business age, he believed IP Warehouse was providing a valuable service.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk