So, you’ve already secured a supplier and built your Shopify store. You’ve also ironed out the details in shipping, promos, payment options, and order processing. The only thing left to do is start selling. But before you launch your website and begin taking orders, ask yourself, is your online store legally ready?
Running a brick-and-mortar shop comes with the risk of dealing with personal injury lawyers. Similarly, owning an online store exposes you to lawsuits and other legal infractions. To protect your business, here are some legal challenges you need to overcome before you officially start selling online.
Trademarks, patents, and copyrights
There are common misconceptions about what these words mean, especially in a digital environment. You want to have a clear understanding of each to prevent any legal complications for your online shop. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) explains the differences between these terms.
- Trademark is a symbol, design, word, and/or phrase that identifies or distinguishes one party’s goods from those of others.
- Patent is a property right granted by the USPTO relating to an invention, product, or process. The duration of the property right is limited, depending on the type of patent granted by the agency.
- Copyright is legal protection for works of authorship, including writings, music, and artwork.
Depending on your brand or product, you may or may not want to apply for one of these legal protections. But you should at least check existing patents or trademarks to make sure you’re not infringing on other businesses’ rights. Say, you want to sell shirts or mugs with Avengers or Star Wars characters, you might run into legal troubles. Partner with law firms or trademark organizations to do proper research.
Electronic transactions and payment fraud
As more consumers shift to online shopping, your shop is at a higher risk of electronic payment fraud. One preventative measure is to use an application performance management or APM software. It will help you identify and fix vulnerabilities within your system. You can then secure each electronic transaction, lower the risk of payment fraud, and manage the situation better if a security breach occurs.
Data protection and privacy
Consumers share information with online stores, and they expect sellers to keep their information confidential. And if you fail to do that due to a security lapse or human error, you won’t only lose potential customers but also put your brand reputation at risk. So how can you prevent this from happening? Create a comprehensive data protection policy; outlines what data is collected from users and how it is stored. You can choose to work with specialists to boost data protection on your website and build a detailed policy for your consumers. This policy should also be visible on your website.
Just because your customers don’t walk into a physical store doesn’t mean your e-commerce shop is spared from legal responsibilities. Take the time to ensure your online store complies with the necessary regulations. Doing so protects you from long, brand-damaging, and costly legal troubles in the future.