RealUser technology can help overcome password problems

Registering IDentities on the Internet

Thawte Web of TrustHaving an assured identity on the Internet will soon be as essential as it is to have an eMail address. Under the European Parliament's Directive of December 1999, the British Government's Electronic Communications Act 2000 has set a deadline of 19th July 2001 by which time 'Trust Service Providers' will need to have submitted proposals for the implementation of the Electronic Signatures Directive. The Government Website at includes a definition of the requirement for Electronic Signatures and the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). As a Trust Service Provider, Thawte Consulting of South Africa, who are a global provider of digital certificate solutions, are in a strong position to become the principal provider in the UK. Thawte doesn't just provide 'no cost' personal digital certificates, but also operates a unique Personal Certification System. The Thawte 'Web of Trust' is a network of Notaries who can validate identities at face to face meetings. The procedure is as follows:

  1. Enroll as a new user at the Thawte Website with a personal ID number:
  2. Appropriate ID numbers can be from passport, social security, driver licence or Inland Revenue ID.
  3. Full name, date of birth, home address and contact details.
  4. Employer's name, address and company size (if employed).
  5. Contact up to five notaries from the Web of Trust Directory and arrange face to face meetings:
    • Make photocopies of at least two original identity documents, including one with a photo.
    • Bring photocopies and original identity documents to the meeting with each Notary.
    • Become eligible for Notary Status by being authenticated by additional notaries.

Thawte's privacy statement is published at

The UK's Passport Service is at

My response to the DTI's Consultation on the EC Electronic Signature Directive 1999/93/EC. Click Here.

The following article, by specialist IP lawyer Kevan Tidy of David H N Davies, was first published in the Salisbury Times & Journal on Thursday 2nd September 1999.


What do the Telly Tubbies, Princess Diana and Elvis Presley have in common? Answer: their names have all recently been involved in court cases involving intellectual property. In the modern economy, intellectual property is a highly valuable commodity and therefore well worth suing over.

So what exactly is intellectual property? Very broadly, owning intellectual property entitles you to exclusively use an original idea for a certain period of time and to stop others copying it without your permission.

Intellectual property law protects an idea in different ways depending on the type of idea. If an idea is "artistic" it may qualify for protection by copyright whereas "industrial" ideas may be protected by patents or designs. Trade marks protect a firm's name and logos and with the current boom in branded goods and services they are a highly lucrative form of intellectual property. It was disputed trade marks that brought the Telly Tubbies, the trustees of Princess Diana and Elvis Inc. into court.

Good ideas are hard to come by but easy to copy. A person may only have one brainwave in their life and there are many horror stories of people literally costing themselves a fortune by not realising they had rights in an idea until it was too late for them to obtain protection.

If you have a brilliant idea what should you do? First, never tell anyone about your idea until you have seen a specialist lawyer, trade mark agent or patent agent because some forms of intellectual property protection are lost once an idea has become public knowledge.

Second, as soon as you can, record and date the idea in some way because it is only after the idea has been reproduced in some tangible form that it can qualify for protection under intellectual property law. Dating helps prove when you had your idea in case it is later copied by someone claiming they thought of it first. Try asking your bank or solicitor to store the document for you and send you a letter confirming the date they received it.

Once your idea is protected you can begin exploiting it but that is another story.....

Kevan Tidy is a Salisbury solicitor specialising in intellectual property, information technology and entertainment and media law. He may be contacted at David H N Davies Solicitors, 50 High Street, Salisbury, Wilts. Telephone 01722 322272. and at

Copyright 1999 Kevan Tidy. All rights reserved.

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