Starting an online business? You’ll need these 4 legal docs

Do you have an online business, or are you thinking about starting an online business?

Setting up an online business is potentially easier and more cost effective than setting up an office or a shop for providing goods and services face-to-face. However, whether your business is brick and mortar or online, it is governed and regulated by laws developed to protect not only the clients and customers but also business owners.

As an online business owner, you should have these four legal documents to protect your online business and ensure compliance with minimum business law rules.

Business Terms

Business terms is a document that sets out the contractual agreement between the business owner and the customers or clients. There are four different kinds of business terms depending on the nature or purpose of your online business, namely: 

  • If you are selling goods or products online, then you require a sales term. A sales term is a contract between the vendor and the customer which sets out important terms such as rights and obligations of the vendor and customer.
  • If the purpose of your online business is to provide services online, then you will need a client agreement. Client agreements set out terms such as what is the service you are providing, the scope of the service, what constitutes completion of the service and payments terms
  • If the nature of your online business aims to connect potential clients or customers with other business owners by providing a directory service, then you will need a directory terms. Examples of popular online directory services include Yelp, TripAdvisor and Foursquare.
  • Marketplace terms is the document required if your online business involves the establishment of a third party websites that allows other business owners to sell their goods or services. Examples of popular online marketplaces are Ebay, Amazon and Gumtree.

Website Terms of Use

An online business will be non-existent without a website. A website’s terms of use sets out the conditions of use for your website’s visitors. It will include terms and conditions such as disclaimers and complaint procedures that will protect you against liability and prevent conflicts and misunderstandings with your customers.

Privacy Policy

In Australia, the Privacy Act 1988 sets regulates how government agencies and private sector organisations handle, regulate and protect individuals’ personal information. A privacy policy sets out how your business intends to fulfil its legal requirements under the Privacy Act 1988.

Trade Mark Registration

A trade mark is a sign used to identify and distinguish your goods or services. This may include your business or company name, your domain name and your products’ branding. One of the most common mistakes online business owners commit is assuming that a business or company name registration or a domain name registration is sufficient protection. It is critical to understand then that a business or company name registration or a domain name ownership does not give you proprietary rights to those names, and it does not give you automatic protection from other people using those names. A trade mark registration will give you exclusive rights to the use of your trade mark and allow you to stop other people from using or copying your trade mark. 

Questions? Get in touch with LegalVision’s online lawyers on 1300 544 755. 

This is the third edition of Spotcap Specialists –  a content series which features advice and tips from experts in a range of fields to support small business growth.

This post was written by Raya Barcelon, Lawyer at LegalVision. Raya has worked as a Senior Trade Mark Examiner at IP Australia where she was an expert on international trade mark registrations and now assists LegalVision’s clients with their online business needs.