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What You Should Know About E-Commerce Law



The internet has made e-commerce a viable way to have an online company or to enhance an established business. Like any other type of business, it comes with its own legal issues that must be addressed. Most e-commerce business owners are focused on running their company and may need legal help at different times. This is why ecommerce lawyers specialize in a variety of fields.

Copyright Protection

As the popularity of e-commerce increases, the chance of business owners having the information they provide or content on their website copied and illegally used also increases. It's essential that e-commerce business owners know the content on their site, as well as their intellectual property, is protected under current copyright law. Text-based HTML code, as well as website design, can be protected with copyright law as well as patents. Copyright law will also protect any music, graphics, photographs, written material, videos, and more created for use by an ecommerce business.

Digital Rights

This covers the rights of an e-commerce business when it comes to online privacy as well as freedom of expression. Internet and telecommunications companies are known for not respecting the rights of a company’s digital privacy. Large corporations as well as governments around the world, cyber-criminals, and more collect data about a business on the internet and track a company's communications, movements and more. If a business has been hacked or had its identity stolen, it may require legal work to correct the situation. E-commerce lawyers specialize in a variety of fields, and digital rights are considered one of the most important.

Trademark Protection

A common legal problem in e-commerce is a business not getting their trademark protected. There are legal protections in place for a company’s logo. This is an important symbol for a company as it will represent them all over the web. Too many companies have had their trademarks infringed upon. When this happens, it can become a serious legal issue that could harm a company's growth and expansion. A company can use an unregistered trademark. The trademark symbol (™) should be placed on the brand name, graphic design, and more. This is all that's necessary to have an unregistered trademark. A registered trademark is recognized on the U.S. Principal Register. It provides a legal assumption of ownership and is an advantage to the registered trademark holder in the event of a trademark dispute.

Collecting Taxes

It can be quite a challenge to correctly collect taxes for an online business. Tax rates can be different from one country to another as well as from one region to another. It's also possible the way taxes are collected are very different. A business can collect tax in the overall price of a product or service or file it after a purchase. It's crucial an e-commerce business owner speak with an accounting professional to make sure they are in compliance with all required tax laws. Mistakes can be expensive and may require legal assistance to correct.

PCI Compliance

All companies who take payment with credit cards are required to be in compliance with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). These standards are in place to make certain companies are operating their credit card processing in a secure manner. A business must keep sensitive payment information from being misused or stolen. Should a consumer believe a business is not PCI compliant, they can contact the credit card company directly. The credit card company will be responsible for investigating alleged violations. Any type of security breach or data loss could cost a company a high fine and more.

Liability Protection

Insurance companies know an e-commerce business is not like a brick-and-mortar store. This is why most don't provide an e-commerce business with the same type of liability protection. Most insurance companies don't offer liability policies to e-commerce companies, and those that do charge a high premium for this type of protection. An excellent way to deal with liability issues is to have an attorney draft an effective set of terms and conditions for a website. They will know how to clearly define the product or service a company is offering, describe warranties as well as guarantees, and more.

Business Records

An online business will experience audits just like any other company. The IRS suggests e-commerce businesses keep business ledgers and all supporting documentation for a minimum of seven years from the day the company filed taxes. All documents regarding employment should be maintained for at least four years.

E-commerce business owners have invested a lot of their time and effort in building their business. They should also do what is necessary to protect it. There are many things an online business must handle properly. This is why e-commerce lawyers specialize in a variety of fields. They can help online business owners in many different ways.

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