Internet of Things (IoT)—key legal issues
Produced in partnership with Matthew Hunt of Bristows and Pat Treacy of Bristows
Last updated on 28/07/2020

The following TMT practice note produced in partnership with Matthew Hunt of Bristows and Pat Treacy of Bristows provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Internet of Things (IoT)—key legal issues
  • The technology behind the IoT
  • Industry 4.0
  • Identifying the legal issues
  • Application programming interfaces (APIs)
  • Telecommunications and electrical equipment
  • Intellectual property—overview
  • Smart IPRs
  • Intellectual property ownership and licensing issues
  • Patent pools
  • More...

Internet of Things (IoT)—key legal issues

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the term given to everyday objects (not just traditional computing devices, such as laptops and smartphones) which are connected to the internet. Other language used in connection with the IoT include: connected devices, smart objects, the internet of services, machine-to-machine (M2M) technology, sensor networks, the network of networks and pervasive computing or ubiquitous computing.

IoT can be applied to objects as diverse as running shoes, buildings, cars, fridge-freezers and drones. Using embedded technology, such objects can communicate and interact over the internet, with each other, the user, the service provider and/or their environment, and they can be remotely monitored and controlled.

This Practice Note provides an introduction to IoT technology and considers the following issues:

  1. The technology behind the IoT

  2. Identifying the legal issues

  3. Application programming interfaces (APIs)

  4. Telecommunications and electrical equipment

  5. Intellectual property—overview

  6. Intellectual property rights ownership and licensing issues

  7. Competition law

  8. Consumer protection

  9. Liability and fault

  10. Compliance requirements

  11. The appropriate contracting model

  12. Legal issues of the future

This Practice Note does not consider data protection, privacy or cybersecurity. These issues are addressed separately in Practice Note: Internet of things (IoT)—data protection, privacy and security.

The technology behind the IoT

The introduction of internet protocol version 6 (see: LNB News 27/05/2008 64), the availability of cheaper electronic technology, the ubiquity of connectivity (access to the internet, particularly via

Related documents:
Key definition:
Pervasive computing definition
What does Pervasive computing mean?

A concept which describes a situation in which computing capability is embedded into numerous different devices around the home or office (eg fridges, washing machines, cars, etc). Also referred to as ubiquitous computing. Pervasive communications implies that the microchips in these devices are also able to communicate, for instance their location and status.

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