So, you want to start an online business? It is easy, isn’t it – you get a domain, buy a hosting, setup a web site and, voila, you are cashing in 24/7. Right? Wrooong! You forgot the lawyers. There are tons of them and they can make your life hell. If you don’t want this to happen, you need to figure out some crucial stuff in the “Big L”-area. Spell it with me: L-E-G-A-L-S-T-U-F-F.
E-commerce offers endless opportunities with the unlimited number of potential worldwide customers, the ease of purchasing a product from each location, the optimization of business processes. However anyone engaged in it should keep in mind that laws and rules exist online as much as they do offline.
Knowing the legal aspect of e-commerce turns out to be one of the key factors about online business success. Since it is a wide topic and a professional legal advice is needed in each particular case, this post will only sketch the applicable legal requirements.
B2B online relations differ from B2C ones, mainly in the more rigorous standard to ensure safety and consumer protection in B2C web businesses, but in order to summarize, these are the main legal aspects of e-commerce, particularly in the EU.
Light Bulb One: Protect Your Most Precious Asset
One of the very first steps to be taken is the domain name registration and its protection. It is important due to the fact that the domain name contract, which is basically a service agreement, protects the domain name in the relation between the parties to this agreement, but it could not automatically offer protection of the domain name against infringements by third parties.
This situation could be resolved by a registration of the domain as a trademark (e.g. if the domain is chicoverdose.com, the part of it “chicoverdose” would be entitled for registration).
It could be done at a national level with the national trademark office, to the entire EU at the OHIM, Spain or internationally using the Madrid System at WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization).
Once the domain name is registered as a trademark, its protection from unauthorized use will be more complete.