E-Commerce and the Internet

E-Commerce is the buying and selling of products and services through electronic means, namely, the internet.  With over three billion people online worldwide, it is not surprising that more businesses seek an online presence to gain the commercial benefits of increased global exposure.  However, taking the leap online without understanding the unique features of ecommerce can be devastating to a business.  The lawyers at Boardman & Clark LLP have the expertise to assist your business on cutting-edge policy questions and business issues such as:

  • Advertising and Marketing. Long before the Internet, the United States passed laws shielding consumers’ from misleading, fraudulent, and deceptive advertising practices.  Courts have applied these same laws to statements on the internet.  
  • Commercial Email. The CAN SPAM Act of 2003 establishes legal requirements for businesses that send commercial emails and provides tough penalties for violations. 
  • Electronic Payment Systems. Our attorneys are knowledgeable on consumer and financial regulations bearing on electronic payment transactions across the spectrum of sales channels.
  • Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) Regulations.  There are numerous FTC regulations that are applicable to ecommerce.  Online businesses risk running afoul of these regulations by proceeding online without proper legal advice.
  • Intellectual Property. Copyrights and trademarks are important assets of your business and sharing these assets online may subject them to risk. 
  • Online Contracting. Online transactions usually fall into two types of e-commerce contracts:  click-through agreements and browse-wrap agreements.  However, if these agreements are not properly created and placed on the website, they may not be enforceable.
  • Online Speech. An online statement may subject a business to damages for defamation if that statement damages the reputation of a person or organization.  Often, the nature of an online statement is determined in light of the context of the statement.
  • Personal Jurisdiction. One of the most challenging issues in ecommerce is dealing with jurisdictional issues.  Online businesses may unknowingly subject themselves to lawsuits across the globe.  We can assist your business to minimize this global litigation risk. 
  • Privacy Policies and Protection of Consumer Data. The United States’ laws on privacy are sporadic at best, targeting individual subject matters and industries for attention (e.g. credit reporting agencies, electronic communications, student records, video rental records) and leaving other areas substantially unregulated at the federal level.  Our attorneys will strive to provide online businesses with a privacy policy that balances the business’ needs for data collection with the consumers’ needs for data protection.
  • Taxation. If a business has a physical storefront, collecting sales tax is straightforward.  The business will charge customers the sales tax required by the jurisdiction where the business is located.  However, online businesses present a more complicated situation that is in a state of legal flux.  Our attorneys monitor the ever-changing status of internet sales taxes and can advise you as to the most up-to-date information.
  • Website Terms and Conditions.  Properly advising consumers of your business’ policies will allow the business to focus on its products and services instead of administration matters.