Legal Steps to Opening a New App, E-Commerce Website or Blog

Your E-Commerce web site, App or Blog will need legal policies. I suggest you do not attempt to write your own legal policies. This is not where your training and background lie, and you do not have the training and experience that a lawyer has that can keep your liability to a minimum.

1. Business Model
Is your idea viable as a web based business? Do you have a business model written out?

2. Business entity
Are you going to be a C corp, a sub-S, an LLC or a sole proprietorship? There are liability and tax issues that can dramatically affect how your business prospers and selecting the proper entity is a critical first step.

3. Terms of Service
This is your contract with your visitors and is the most important item for any App or e-commerce site. A little work here brings big dividends in the future. The absence of a written “Terms of Service” can expose your business and possibly you to both criminal and civil liability.

4. Privacy Policy
Every Blog, App or e-commerce site needs a Privacy Policy! Operating an App or e-commerce site without a Privacy Policy exposes you to civil and criminal liability. Further, the absence of a Privacy Policy will cause a red flag for many legitimate visitors who will not deal a web site not professional enough to have a Privacy Policy.

5. FTC guidelines
The FTC has been regulating business advertising for almost a century. All of their advertising guidelines apply to an App or e-commerce sites. The FTC negotiates with established e-commerce businesses but new ones are frequently sanctioned with fines, etc. and don’t forget about SPAM issues with your email account.

6. Domain Name issues
Is your name available? Can you create a Trademark? People are often confused by the difference between a domain name and a trademark. While they are separate identities, there is often considerable overlap. Domain names, trademarks and service marks can become valuable assets but the failure to properly protect them may deprive you of much of their value.

7. Trademark
Do you have a brand name free from conflict? Should you start with just common law rights? When Should you register the mark?

8. Copyright
If it is on the web, it already belongs to somebody. Did you buy a license for the images you are using? Using copyrighted materials without proper licensing is not only expensive but under some conditions criminal.

9. The DMCA Policy
This is a very inexpensive “insurance policy” which gives you a “safe harbor” from liability if your visitors post copyright material on your web site.

10. Web Site security Issues
Ask Target, Anthem Insurance etc. if this is an issue. Encryption is a simple way to ensure you never have a data breach.

11. The Difference Between a “browser wrap” and a “click wrap”
Using a click wrap, where the visitor actuals clicks a button agreeing with the TOS will greatly decrease your liability

Getting Started
Feel free to call me for a NO CHARGE initial consultation about your needs.