What are the legalities of doing business in the digital world? How can your protect your ideas online?
Read on for Sharon’s key takeaways that she will expand on during her session…
Take away tips
- Although we all still love browsing through a bricks and mortar store, gift shopping today also means buying online
- Therefore, selling online means that your business needs to think about online terms and conditions and privacy policies, as well as protecting your intellectual property
- Intellectual Property covers a range of things, including trade marks, designs, copyright, patents and confidential information
- Some need to be registered with the government and some do not – make sure you get advice and know how to protect your ideas!
Shopping is always a good idea
In today’s world, the way we shop is drastically changing. We want to shop from the convenience of our own home. The world of ASOS, The Iconic and boohoo.com have meant that we have access to more shops and products online – why would we even want to leave the comfort of our couch to shop?
As a business owner, it is essential to have an online presence, and often an online shop too. This can open a world of possibilities too – your shop can be open 24/7 and ship across the world.
However, being online means that your business (your brand, your products and your whole world) are out there for the rest of the world to see – so how do you ensure that you do not get copied?
Brands, brands, brands!
First things first, this means investing in developing a good brand or trade mark and making sure it is protected as a registered trade mark.
Trade marks can be names, logos, shapes, colours and even scents!
Having a registered trade mark means that you have the exclusive right to use that brand for the goods and services you provide and importantly, it means you can stop others if they try to use a brand that it too similar.
Designs and copyright
Once you have locked in protection for your brand, you also need to think about how to protect the actual products and gifts you are making and selling as well so that these do not get copied.
It is important to understand how you need to protect your product. For example, an artwork may be protected under copyright, but a teapot may need to be registered as a design to be protected.
Get advice early as if you do not register your design before you start selling it, you could be too late.
Social media is also an important avenue to build your brand and promote your products. But be sure that your business’s Instagram account does not become an #instafail.
Do you have the appropriate permission/licences to post the content on your account? Are you making sure that your content is not misleading or deceptive?
How do you respond to complaints or queries on social media?
Are you doing social media competitions and if so, do you have the required permits and terms and conditions in place?
Selling online also gives rise to a number of issues that do not arise in a physical store. For example, how long do you take to deliver? Do you require a deposit if your sofa is bespoke and made to order? What if the exact colour is not in stock? How do you deal with returns?
Whether you are selling in store or online, you still have to comply with your obligations under the Australian Consumer Law. Remember it is always better to be clear an upfront about these things on your website, rather than trying to sort it out if (or when!) things go wrong.
Having clear terms and conditions can set out your position on the above matters and ensure that any issues can be dealt with promptly and efficiently, letting you get back to what you do best!
About Sharon Givoni
Sharon Givoni (link to www.sharongivoni.com.au) is a Melbourne-based intellectual property lawyer with clients in the window furnishings industry. She does trade mark and designs work as well as contracts and copyright advice. Sharon’s book Owning It: A Creative’s Guide to Copyright, Contracts and the Law, available through Creative Minds Publishing (link towww.creativemindshq.com/owningit), aims to demystify the law for creative and small business owners regarding the protection of their designs, trade marks, copyright, reputation, confidential information and other intellectual property. Sharon can be contacted by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or called on 0410 557 907 or 03 9527 1334. Her website for “Sharon Givoni Consulting” is: www.sharongivoni.com.au.
Join Sharon’s ‘Internet Tips and Traps’ session at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre on Tuesday 8 August. Tickets are $30, book now!
Plus! What Sharon’s firm can do to help you …
Selling online is important to any business. However, it also opens a range of new challenges to businesses from protecting your brand and products online, to dealing with consumer matters.
Sharon Givoni Consulting can help you to get the intellectual property protection you need, as well as drafting terms and conditions and privacy policies to ensure that you can go confidently into the online marketplace.
Disclaimer: This article is of a general nature and not to be replaced with tailored legal advice.