12 eCommerce Legal Issues to Consider in Operating an Online Business

The following article provides a high-level summary of some key eCommerce law issues online business operators face in running a website or other eCommerce business. Conducting business online or maintaining a website may subject companies and individuals to unforeseen legal liabilities. The following is a brief survey of 12 key eCommerce law issues to consider:

1. Internet Business & eCommerce

A good starting point is analyzing a company’s online presence and auditing their procedures to determine how to grow their brand and online influence. As part of this, the company’s agreements and websites should comply with the myriad of laws and regulations affecting websites and online businesses, such as COPPA.

2. Domain Name Acquisition

Domains are often the key to an online business, but can present a number of problems. Domain name issues include securing a domain name initially, as well as protecting domain names from adverse parties that attempt to trade off the goodwill associated with the company’s brand. Sometimes, the company needs defense, retrieval, and protection of domain names on the Internet.

3. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) Compliance

Companies operating websites, particularly where third-party content may be uploaded directly, should consider adopting agreements and procedures to shield themselves against claims of liability and copyright infringement. This procedure is sometimes referred to as a “copyright policy” or “DMCA takedown” procedure. Compliance with the DMCA can provide the online operator with a safe harbor from liability.

4. Online Privacy

Online privacy continues to become a bigger issue. With the spread of mobile devices, tablets, and apps, privacy issues are becoming more complex. Companies should consider composing or updating their privacy policies as well as adopting internal security protocols aimed at protecting the online privacy of customers and website users.

5. Social Media Law

While a powerful vehicle to build brand strength and interact with customers, social media can create a number of legal issues for online businesses. A social media policy provided to employees as well as guidelines can be effective steps to reduce risk. A few key areas to consider are employment related use of social media, confidentiality, sponsorship, and branding guidelines.

6. Privacy Policies

Privacy policies should not be copied from online templates or rival companies. They should be drafted comprehensively to address unique issues of a specific online business and to accommodate future growth. Whether a company looks to collect analytics or more personalized information, the company should focus on its specific business needs and risk factors. Privacy policies should be updated as a business evolves.

7. Terms of Use Agreements

Terms of Use (TOU) agreements can limit liability for companies that maintain an Internet presence. These agreements should be optimized to address a company’s specific business and should not be simply cut and pasted from the Internet. What works for one company may not work for another company.

8. eCommerce Agreements

eCommerce agreements come in many forms such as licensing, advertising agreements, and payment processor agreements. eCommerce agreements should be drafted to address the primary legal risks involved in a particular eCommerce contract or business transaction.

9. Online Sweepstakes & Games

Online sweepstakes, contests, and games create a number of legal pitfalls. Depending on the sweepstake, contest, or game, compliance with the laws of all 50 states as well as the federal government may be required. Registration in specific states may also be required. Online businesses may benefit from guidance as to whether a particular new initiative is considered a sweepstake, contest, or game.

10. Domain Theft

Recovering hijacked domains can often be difficult and time-consuming. Typically, avoiding domain theft in the first place is much easier than attempting to recover a stolen domain. While difficult, it is possible to recover a hijacked domain.

11. Website Agreements

Website agreements can be customized to limit legal liability and reduce risks of disputes by analyzing an online business’s intellectual property portfolio, business processes, and brand objectives. Website agreements can be used for mobile applications in addition to websites.

12. Impersonation and Username Squatting

Impersonation and username squatting can occur when a third party registers a social media account using someone else’s identity. This can result in harmful posts and information being published in social media. Username squatting can also prevent a trademark or brand owner from controlling their trademark. Typically, registering usernames in advance is the best strategy to avoid impersonation or username squatting.

While the above identifies a number of eCommerce and internet law issues affecting website and online business operators, an in-depth analysis may be required. For more information, you may want to contact an eCommerce attorney.

Disclaimer – As with any discussion of legal topics, this article is intended to be educational only, and is not a substitute for legal advice, nor does it provide legal advice or form an attorney-client relationship with the reader. Please seek legal counsel before making any decisions. Also, please note that this article will likely not be updated, so the law and circumstances may have changed by the time you have read this article.

Affordable Domain Names for Your Ecommerce Website

An on-line presence is very essential for any kind of business: it is probably the most cost efficient type of advertising currently available. Numerous small businesses use the web to sell their services and products while many businesses do not actually see the web as a market. No matter what you’d like to do, inform your customers or sell products on-line, you need to know several Web site basics in order to attain success. Fundamentally there are two main types of web sites! informative and commercial. If you are only starting out, dependent on the nature of one’s company, you will either plan an educational web site meant to attract and encourage customers to ask the services or you will develop a professional web site that will sell your products online.

Some entrepreneurs create web sites which are educational and commercial, especially when they might like to encourage products which are new in the marketplace or that could bring significant advantages to the users. Overall, the Web is a marketplace and an internet site. Your most important on-line promotional tool. As a matter of fact, you must first pick a name for the domain and book that domain name. The cost of domain name varies with domain registrar and you can get cheap or affordable domain names too there, but try to avoid free domain name, which is not good for ecommerce websites. This name must be strongly associated to your business and simple to recall. Avoid long, hard domain names like! Allideasforpartydesignuk dot com or names which say nothing about your company like frght88 dot net. Again free hosting isn’t an option for serious on-line businesses.

There are lots of companies offering reliable website hosting services. If you are serious about on-line business you should select a reliable hosting company, one which offers 24 hour support and has an excellent standing. You will design your web site according to these documents. If you hire a pro, make sure she or he can design your site respecting your visual identification recommendations, the World Wide Web Consortium requirements and create the internet search engine optimised pages. Promoting your web site requires a long term marketing plan. You need to take in consideration all possible on-line marketing possibilities: from basic internet submission to PPC, submission in paid directories, news release and article submissions, web blogging and posting in forums, choose-in e-mail marketing and so forth. You will need to help keep your web site actual, or else you will lose significant points in the SERP and the visitors may be considered irrelevant, uninteresting as well as not worth another visit. Well, these are most key elements influencing your on-line success. Each element has its significance and will play a significant role to establish your site presence and usability.