Tag Archives: online business

Litigation

Litigation means the resolution of disputes through the court process. Sometimes litigation may be necessary, despite your best efforts to steer clear of a dispute.

Is it worth it?

If the other party is blatantly infringing your rights, or is making completely unreasonable demands, then litigation may be unavoidable. Similarly, if you have made a bad deal (for example, franchise contracts can sometimes turn out to have been a poor investment) and it is too costly to continue with the contract, you may have no alternative but to terminate early, and risk being sued.

If an initial exchange of correspondence with the other party is not enough to stave off litigation, you will need to consider the likely impact of court proceedings.

This will include:

  • The cost of litigation. See our page on Funding Litigation
  • Loss of time to your business
  • Reputational damage caused by the publicity of litigation
  • Personal or Business readjustments required if litigation is unsuccessful

There are certain timescales which must be observed to lodge and progress court proceedings. It is essential to contact a solicitor as soon as you are aware you may have to engage in litigation.

How we can help

We will provide full cost estimates for sending a letter before action and initiating legal proceedings. We work closely with leading intellectual property barristers to appear in the High Court, County Court, the Patent Office or the Trade Mark and Design Registry.

Our business model enables us to keep our overheads low, and yet bring together a large and expert team to handle most sizes of dispute, so please contact us for an initial consultation.

Domain Names

Domain names are a fundamental aspect of branding. They are easy to register, and can be used instantly to associate your website with your brand.

  • Domain names and trademarks are separate and unrelated pieces of property although each is relevant to branding and both have value.
  • Domain names are important business assets. They should be overseen by whoever handles the business trademarks.

How can I secure control over my domain name?

Many businesses are unaware that company or domain registrations do not give rights to use the corresponding name in their business. Although you may have registered a domain name, if it is similar to a trademark used by another business, the other business may be able to stop you from using it. To secure protection over your domain name you should:

  • Conduct a trademark clearance search of the name before buying a domain.
  • Register the name as a trademark at the same time as purchasing the domain name. If you have a trademark in place it will be easier to recover the domain name from a cybersquatter.
  • A policy on domain name registration is an important aspect of dispute prevention. If domain names are purchased haphazardly, this can lead to problems later.
  • If you think a domain registration has been made in bad faith or to ‘cybersquat’ then you may be able to recover the domain name without having to buy it from the owner. We can assist with such disputes.

How we can help

  • A solid administrative system will help ensure renewals are not missed, and are not picked up by cybersquatters. Using our domain management services gives you an effective administrative solution for domains.
  • Some countries only allow domain names to be granted to businesses with presence there. We can also provide a ‘local presence service’ to enable you to satisfy their presence requirements.

How to Value a Business

What is Business Valuation?

Business valuation looks at the commercial value of a business as a whole, taking into consideration its assets and current market conditions.

Business assets include:-

  • Business premises
  • Intellectual property
  • Business liabilities
  • Business turnover
  • Effective management
  • Goodwill – including the value of the brand and trademark

When is Business Valuation relevant?

A business valuation can be relevant in a whole range of circumstances in particular:

Sometimes valuations will be sought for specific elements of a business such as commercial property or intellectual property.

Often business contracts will require a professional business valuation, but even when this is not requested, it is essential to engage professional advice both in determining business valuation and in preparing the documentation to implement any transfer of the business.

Social Media Contracts

Like any type of business contract, a social media contract can be a useful commercial tool. The management of your social media presence can directly affect the reputation of your business and brand, especially as the internet is often the first port of call for customers when searching for new products and services.

Social media contracts include:

  • Direct contracts with social media organisations
  • Google AdWords account handling
  • Contracts with advertising agencies to advertise on social media
  • SEO contract

Any social media contract, including an SEO contract, should:

  • Lay down clear boundaries as to what each party is responsible for
  • Ensure the appropriate safeguards are in place
  • Provide for a clear exit strategy should you wish to regain control of your social media presence.

How can we help?

As a firm actively engaged on social media platforms we have a strong understanding of the opportunities and pitfalls presented by Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and other platforms for businesses. We are also experts in the field of brand and reputation management.

Privacy Policy

A privacy policy is required by Data protection regulations. Data protection is becoming ever more important so make sure you have an adequate, up to date, coherent and accessible privacy policy.

  • A privacy policy explains to customers, users or website visitors what information you collect from them, and how you are going to use it.
  • A privacy policy is necessary in order for you to comply with your legal obligations. It also reassures the public that you will use their personal information in accordance with the law.
  • Businesses who choose to ignore the rules may face substantial fines.

Do I need a privacy policy?

Even the simplest of websites will collect information about visitors.

  • Website hosts collect log files which store information about the visitors to your website such as their IP address, the type of browser they are using, their geographical location, the times they accessed your site and the pages they looked at. However, most websites go further than this, and will use cookies, forms and other mechanisms to collect more data.
  • Following the introduction of new European legislation, sites ought to make an effort to obtain explicit consent before using cookies. Sites which do not comply may face fines of up to £500,000
  • Your privacy policy will need regular review, whenever your processes are in respect of holding information are updated.

We have substantial expertise in drafting and analysing privacy policies, and advising on the legal implications of collecting, processing storing and using personal information.

Digital Media Law

What is Digital Media?

Digital media refers to any type of media stored in electronic form, for example audio, video, graphics, images, text. So digital media might refer to the text files stored on your eBook reader, or the music file stored on an MP3 player.

  • Digital media law is really a mixture of laws including:
  •  Creators of digital media are often concerned about piracy and copyright infringement and may wish to use digital rights management (DRM) to manage these risks.
  • Digital media often forms part of the branding and marketing of a business and product and businesses are often concerned about brand protection and the use of digital media in the emerging social media focused marketplace.

Online Branding

Doing business online means competing with billions of other web pages for users’ attention. Standing out from the crowd is crucial, so is important to have in place an effective online branding strategy.

  • It is important that you ‘own’ your brand. Make sure you secure trademark protection for brand names, logos, and taglines
  • You should also take action to be vigilant and enforce your rights where necessary. Our trade mark watch service brand protection service can help you to respond promptly to applications for registration which threaten the distinctiveness of your own marks.
  • It is important to take action against acts of trademark infringement and passing off by your competitors.
  • Reputation monitoring and responding to online defamation is crucial. Bad publicity quickly do lasting damage to your reputation.

Ecommerce

Ecommerce generally means doing business online by selling products and services through an online store. This could be as straightforward as selling goods through an eStore, or alternatively you might allow users to subscribe a service you offer through your website, such as access to a database, a social networking platform, a website management solution, or any another service.

What legal considerations apply to ecommerce?

  • Competition online is fierce and the way to set yourself apart from competitors is to have a memorable, distinctive brand name which you can own. Securing a trademark and domain name is crucial.
  • Other Intellectual property considerations are important when doing business online. For example you will need to ensure that your website does not incorporate material which infringes upon the copyright, trademarks, designs or other rights of third parties
  • Basic issues which arise in relation to all business contracts will apply to the agreements you make with online customers. The provisions of the Unfair Contract Terms Act, implied terms of contract, and rules relating to business terms will need to be considered.
  • Distance Selling Regulations require you to allow customers time to cancel their orders if they wish to do so, and also mean that you need to supply them with your terms of business in a durable form, along with a range of other information.
  • Websites are within the scope of advertising regulation, which prohibits misleading content.
  • The law of defamation covers any material published online.

How can we help?

We have an in depth understanding of ecommerce issues and can advise you on the documentation you need, how best to structure transactions and how to manage your liabilities and risks. You can find more information about the documentation you ought to have in place on our website: Ecommerce Terms

IT Law

IT is far too broad a subject to cover from a legal perspective on a single page, and you will find many references to IT law on other pages on our website. In brief, the main issues which may affect your business are the following:

  • Copyright is the primary means by which the law protects software, as it prevents others from reproducing your work. However, copyright alone might not be enough to prevent a competitor replicating functionality in computer software.
  • Intellectual property rights exist in information created, stored, and distributed through IT systems. Various IP rights may be affected through general use of IT systems and appropriate consents and licences should be obtained
  • Data protection issues arise in relation to personal data stored in IT systems, and it is important to ensure any use of personal data is within the law.
  • New IT technological inventions and innovations may be eligible for patent protection. Although patents in respect of computer programs are restricted in the UK and Europe, computer software may in certain circumstances form part of a patentable invention.
  • The internet brings with it countless risks and opportunities, and intellectual property, online defamation, domain names, and ecommerce as discussed below are just a handful of the IT law issues which are relevant when using the internet.
  • When developing a new computer software it is crucial to keep your ideas confidential to avoid others profiting from them.

How can we help?

Please do follow the links on this page to find out more about the different ways in which IT law impacts upon your business.

We have broad, and deep expertise of the issues discussed above, and can help you to make the most of information technology.

Online Marketing

Online marketing is about ensuring that your business is well placed in internet search listings, as this is crucial in order to reach your customers. For most modern SMEs, their online presence is a critical part of their marketing strategy.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

SEO is a collection of online marketing techniques which marketers use to increase their prominence in search engine listings. Hundreds of factors have an impact on the position of your website in results, including:

  • The relevance of the content on your web page when compared to the search term in question
  • Backlinks (the number of links to your webpage).
  • Metadata (such as the title used for your webpages).
  • Domain authority (how long your website has been around, the number of other sites which link to it and other similar ingredients).

SEO Consultants

SEO consultants can help you to improve your site in relation to the factors mentioned above.

They may:

  • Review the pages on your website to propose technical improvements
  • Prepare content for you
  • Carry out research for you to advise on keywords you may wish to target
  • Contact third parties to encourage links to your website

Some SEO strategies can offer short term gains, with long-term penalties. If your SEO consultant adopts techniques which are frowned upon by search engines, then there is a risk that your site will plummet in the rankings later on. It pays to have a well drafted SEO agreement which includes warranties to which you have recourse if things go wrong.

How can we help?

We are familiar with online marketing, SEO strategies and internet and marketing law. We are able to assist by:

  • Advising on your requirements when engaging SEO providers
  • Reviewing and advising on contract terms
  • Drafting agreements
  • Resolving disputes concerning the provision of SEO services