Transitioning into an online business may feel daunting. From operations to technology, there are so many potentially new processes. Business owners currently operating online can also benefit from a review of their operations and how they can best protect their work. Don’t let your intellectual property strategy hinder your success! Here are five perspectives of what you need to consider when engaging online:
Advertising and Marketing
- Marketing your product or service is an integral part of any business, especially when operating online. Creating an advertising strategy that abides by legal guidelines may sound confusing but there are a few easy tips.
- Firstly, make sure that all claims are truthful and substantiated. If you’re selling socks, don’t say that they can fix a broken bone.
- Don’t forget that this also applies to social media. Not only you and/or your business, but anyone you may work with such as content influencers, with must adhere to these rules.
- Select a strong name and/or logo for your business. What is a strong name? A good rule of thumb is, if it describes what you’re selling, it’s probably not distinct enough.
- Make sure you take steps to decrease the likelihood of infringement. Before committing to a name to use commercially, consult with a legal team to search existing marks and assess potential risks.
- Will you conduct business in multiple countries? Keep up to date with individual country’s trademark requirements so you understand how to file.
- Lastly, make sure to review your contracts to be aware of which rights you have and which rights you are granting. You cannot grant any rights that you don’t have! If you need help deciphering a contract, reach out.
- Is there content that you use on your website, social media, or mobile apps? Make sure you know whether you can use media like music, text, photos, art, video, or other content in various ways- personally, commercially, within whatever geographic restrictions. Additionally, follow “proper credit and/or attribution” requirements for the content.
- Are third-parties able to post content on your website? You may want to limit your liability against their potential copyright infringement by taking advantage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)’s Safe Harbor. Let us know if you need help navigating these requirements.
- Is there a person whose name, likeness, or image you are using in connection with your business? There are right of publicity laws that you must follow as well as applicable state laws.
- An online entrepreneurs’ website is like their online storefront. Do you have a clear agreement with your website or software developer? Make sure any other tools created for the operation of your business, like mobile apps, are included in your strategy. A well-written contract is a good way to take preventative measures before the work is done to avoid later infringement or theft.
Privacy and Other Legal Considerations
- Be in the know when it comes to changing data privacy and internet laws. Specific state laws may apply to your business even if you are not physically located there.
- The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and Californica Public Records Act (CPRA) grants California residents greater control over their personal data and how businesses use that information. If you want to prepare your businesses for CPRA compliance, start by reviewing how your company collects data, and then contact a professional about how to make sure everything is above board and complies with the new laws.
- Virginia recently passed similar legislation known as the Consumer Data Privacy Act (CDPA). There are some differences compared to California’s legislation such as which businesses apply to the regulations.
- Finally, set up your online presence to comply with other regulations such as the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). For example, make online offerings available to those with disabilities. Other important legislation includes the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the Communications Decency Act (CDA).
- Last but certainly not least, educate yourself and pursue all routes to protect your content.
- Seeking registration with the Copyright Office and/or the USPTO is a great first step in protecting your business and intellectual property.
- Another strategy which helps to prevent improper use is to include notices on your website, social media, and /or mobile applications.
- If you are concerned about improper use, explore all monitoring tools and consult with your legal team.
Whether you already conduct business online or not, the internet is here to stay. It’s become an invaluable economic resource, especially with the need for remote options in the past year. As such a fast and accessible way to work, make sure you take into account all your legal and commercial options as an intellectual property owner.
(This is not intended as legal advice. Contact a lawyer for assistance in your particular situation.)