Online content distribution businesses require methods to protect the intellectual property of distributed content. Intellectual property protection is a mechanism to protect the rights of ownership of original work so that no one can use the rights-protected work in any way without seeking permission for the use and, if necessary, paying the rights owners a royalty for the use. Digital watermarking is the core technology in electronic rights protection. However, research addressing the concerns of businesses about intellectual property protection schemes through watermarking is scarce. In this paper, we address these concerns by first introducing watermark design patterns (WDPs) for electronic commerce applications, then presenting problems of copyright protection using watermarking, and finally presenting management concerns. A WDP is defined as the requirements of a digital watermark for a particular type of distributed media content under the protection of its intellectual property. This paper introduces four WDPs for four types of media data - video, image, audio, and text and they are denoted as WDPvideo, WDPimage, WDPaudio and WDPtext respectively. The four WDPs are derived from the characteristics of watermarking techniques and the properties of a distributor’s web site. In our study, the proposed WDPs are used to relate the digital watermarking techniques to electronic commerce applications, and their relationships are presented graphically. The relationship diagram can facilitate electronic commerce application developers to select appropriate digital watermarking techniques and off-the-shelf systems for intellectual property protection on their web sites.