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Ecommerce white paper

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Ecommerce white paper

  1. 1. THE EMERGENCE OF ECOMMERCE AND INTERNET BUSINESS LAWToday’s online companies face a multitude of legal issues related to their online presence. Theseunique and novel issues have given rise to the emerging legal field of eCommerce and InternetBusiness law.What is eCommerce and Internet Business Law?Internet Business law relates to those unique legal issues and challenges presented by allcompanies with any sort of web presence, including issues relating to their company web site,blogs, social media, and related agreements with designers, web and software developers, webhosts and advertisers.By comparison, eCommerce refers to the buying and selling of products and services over theInternet. These days, one can purchase almost any type of product online, and an increasingnumber or services are becoming available for purchase over the Internet.While all companies with any sort of web presence should address Internet business legal issues,eCommerce companies have additional legal issues to resolve. eCommerce companies are thosecompanies who not only have a web presence, but also buy and sell products or services over theweb. The added elements of commercial transactions, such as payment and delivery terms,warranties, etc., are in addition to the Internet Business law issues described above.eCommerce and Internet Business law combine traditional legal areas of intellectual property law(patent, trade secret, trademark, and copyright), business and commercial transactions law, andregulatory law. In addition, however, the unique and mercurial nature of business conducted onand over the web presents unique challenges not addressed by traditional law firm practicegroups. Thus, while the core of eCommerce and Internet Business law involves a blending oftraditional legal practices, the combination of these issues and areas, as well as the uniquechallenges presented by the global reach of the Internet, make eCommerce and Internet Businesslaw its own legal sub-specialty.Common eCommerce and Internet Business Law IssueseCommerce and Internet Business law encompasses a myriad of legal issues and matters, many ofwhich relate to specific types of industries or business activities. Below is a list of some of themore common matters that companies with an online presence must address:Common Internet Business matters include: Domain-name registration and transactions Domain recovery actions and domain name disputes Privacy and publicity issues Unfair competition and false advertising issues Online advertising practices Metatag use Keywords and Google® AdWords® ICANN proceedings (including those under the UDRP) Online marketing Online privacy and terms of use policies Social media policy
  2. 2. Anti-spam policy External links policy/agreements Disclaimers Copyright retention Trademark usage policiesCommon eCommerce matters include: Compliance with COPA and other laws affecting eCommerce Issues associated with website development/hosting and copyright ownership Trademark and brand issues online eCommerce businesses and projects Trade secrets and online business practices Linking agreements General eCommerce law and Internet laws Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Patent issues related to eCommerce Click-through agreements Database protection Electronic signatures/verification Website membership agreement Compliance with federal and state consumer protection laws Information licensing Refund & returns policy Export controls and other trade regulations Warranties and Limits of Liability Other online contracting issuesIn addition to the above-referenced types of matters, there are a number of “offline” legal issuesinvolved in eCommerce and Internet Business law, such as: Outsourcing agreements Search Engine Optimization (SEO) agreements “Software as a Service” agreements Copywriting agreements (e.g., web content, blogs, etc.) Website design/development agreement Joint venture/joint marketing and “affiliate” agreements Technology transfers Web hosting agreements Listing agreements Hosting terms of service Website sales and lease agreements Nondisclosure Agreement/Confidentiality AgreementsSpecial IssuesThe universality and anonymity of the Internet requires online companies deal with a number ofspecial issues beyond those faced in the offline world, such as the following:
  3. 3. Because web sites can be accessed from virtually anywhere in the world, compliance with a complex web of state, federal and foreign legal requirements and systems can present significant challenges. In addition, web sites may be accessed by children, which are protected by a number of state and federal rules. In some instances, site users can post materials that infringe the intellectual property of third parties, creating potential liability for the site hosts. Some web sites offer software and other technical data for download. These sites must ensure that the information is not exported in violation of US trade laws or provided to terrorists. Sites obtaining private data and financial information are often the target of cyber- terrorists, identity thieves and other criminals, so they must ensure their sites and the data are secure. Finally, in the event of a dispute, there may be questions regarding where it would be proper to sue, whether the courts have authority over all the parties, and whether any judgment can be enforced.ConclusionIn conclusion, eCommerce and Internet Business present a number of legal issues and challenges,many of which are addressed by various traditional legal areas. However, the global accessibilityand ever-present nature of eCommerce and Internet Business law require not only an appreciationof the interplay between these various areas of law, but also an understanding of the novel andunique legal issues presented by a company’s online presence.

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