E-Commerce - Legal Aspects

Legal Information about E-Commerce




E-Commerce - Legal Aspects

Electronic commerce, commonly known as e-commerce or eCommerce, refers to the Internet based industry of buying and selling products or services via electronic means. E-Commerce uses a combination of Internet technology, mobile commerce, electronic funds transfers, escrowing services, electronic data interchange, supply chain management, inventory management systems, Internet marketing, data collection systems, and many other technologies and innovative business systems. Most, if not all, e-commerce transactions use the Internet for at least one point of the transaction. 

While e-commerce can take on many forms, one of the most common practices related to electronic commerce is the practice of "e-tailing." Also known as "virtual storefronts," this is the practice of listing products for sale in a catalog format on a website. Some e-tail sites (perhaps most notably Amazon.com) take this a step further and aggregate numerous smaller stores into a unified system like a "virtual mall." 

Other examples of ecommerce include subscription sites, mobile application sales, electronic book purchases, online auctions, and the procurement of various services via the web.
  • ABA - Electronic Commerce Law Subcommittee

    The American Bar Association Electronic Commerce Subcommittee develops and recommends efficient, flexible and equitable policies, principles, and practices for business-to-business and business-to-consumer electronic commerce. It's actively engaged in projects directly aqnd through three working groups: the Consumer Protection Working Group; the Working Group on Transferability of Electronic Assets, and the Electronic Contracting Practices Working Group.

  • Basic Guide to E-Commerce

    Guide to doing business over the internet/web. Includes: Basics; Getting a Computer, Connecting to the Internet, and Developing a Web Page; Understanding Electronic Data Interchange (EDI); Building and Managing a Virtual Team; Product Development; Developing Your Online Store, Online Transactions, etc.; Online Marketing and Monetizing Your Website; and Other General Resources.

  • E-Commerce and Tax Law Journal

    A legal publication created and published by the Internet Business Law Services (IBLS), the world's largest Internet law publisher and Thomas Jefferson School of Law Masters in Law Program. The Law Journal publishes writings by academics, practitioners and policy makers on a variety of topics, including e-commerce, electronic contracting, techno torts, cyber crime, privacy, Internet taxation, international taxation, etc

  • E-Commerce and the Law

    An e-commerce guide that covers: E-commerce Regulations; Tips for complying with the E-commerce Regulations; Regulations applying to telephone and fax marketing; Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations; Tips for complying with the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations; E-commerce and the Data Protection Act 1998; Distance Selling Regulations; and Provision of Services Regulations.

  • FTC - Online Advertising and Marketing

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the primary federal agency regulating e-commerce activities, including use of commercial e-mails, online advertising and consumer privacy. This page provides information and links to legal resources, which include: Case Highlights; Reports and Workshops; Laws, Rules, and Guides; and Compliance Documents.

  • SSL Privacy Seal Program - Guardian eCommerce

    SSL Privacy Seal Program is a third party site verification provided by Guardian eCommerce. Its primary objective is to help protect online consumers worldwide by identifying safe and trustworthy web sites.

  • UNCITRAL - Electronic Commerce

    The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) was established by the General Assembly in 1966 to further the progressive harmonization and unification of the law of international trade. The Commission has since come to be the core legal body of the United Nations system in the field of international trade law.

Starting an E-Business

Starting an E-Business is much like starting any other form of business, except that the company usually exists primarily or entirely on the Internet. There are many reasons to set up a business online: it is cheap, your catalog is easy to maintain and keep current, you can communicate with customers directly via blogs and email without the costs of mailings, there are usually much lower staffing costs, you can be open 24 hours a day, and you are open to a global market. There are many other reasons you may want to consider opening an online business. But, the process is not free of its share of legal pitfalls, as well. The resources below will help to guide you through the process of investigating and establishing your E-Business and helping it grow and succeed.

Domain Names

Domain Names. The choice of a domain name involves more than simply selecting a name not already registered by someone else. A domain name can function as a trademark or service mark, which is a term or symbol used to create an exclusive association in the marketplace between a company and the goods and services it sells. Think, for example, of Google, AOL, or Facebook. Their company and web address are virtually synonymous, as are hundreds of other companies. If your choice of domain name is so similar to another company’s domain name, or other trademark or service mark, that it is likely to cause confusion among consumers and your company may be subject to allegations of trademark infringement. There are a number of other legal and practical considerations to work through before settling on a domain name for your business. The resources below will help guide you through the process of choosing an ideal domain name and bringing your brand to the Internet.

Articles on HG.org Related to E-Commerce

  • Should You Invest in a Resale Franchise?
    There are many reasons franchisees decide to sell their franchise – life changes like death, divorce or retirement comes to mind – and if you are looking at investing in a resale franchise, you should neither discount nor leap into it without careful investigation.
  • Terms of Service For E-Commerce Websites
    Although the average consumer tends to disregard the fine print found in a terms of service contract, this legal documentation provides protection and security to business owners and/or service providers in the event of an unforeseen situation or unexpected outcome. Especially for companies that conduct business or facilitate various transactions via the internet, a website’s terms of use is imperative to compensate for the lack of or limited verbal and/or written communications.
  • California’s Anti-SLAPP Laws Increase Risk when Suing Based on Consumer Complaints
    California anti-SLAPP laws are are designed to protect the public right to petition and free speech in matters of public interest and concern, including in connection with lawsuits, legislation, in public forums and discussions, and generally in matters of public interest. Where anti-SLAPP law applies, however, it can spell disaster for a plaintiff who is found to have filed a contravening lawsuit as illustrated by the example below.
  • Legal Actions against Website Posting Fake Reviews
    Many consumers report looking over reviews before purchasing a product or service. This has been made easier by the Internet and the easy ability for consumers to include reviews. However, it has also given a forum for consumers to post negative reviews about businesses and individuals that portrays them in a negative light. In some instances, legal action can be taken against posters or websites if the conduct amounts to defamation.
  • When Buying from Foreign Sources, What Can You Do if the Seller Does Not Send Your Product?
    Buyers large and small have begun purchasing from foreign sources. Sites like alibaba.com have revolutionized the international market for consumers, while the Internet in general has made it easier for companies to interface and conduct business with others around the world.
  • The Basics of Crowdfunding
    Over the past couple of years, the process of crowdfunding has become hugely popular as a means to start businesses, launch new products, or support any number of causes. In this post, we’ll cover what crowdfunding is and how it gained popularity as well as the different types of crowdfunding so that you can either utilize the different platforms available to fund your own project, or to make wiser investments.
  • Fighting Back Against Internet Defamation
    The internet is a tempting forum for employees and competitors to get revenge by posting negative reviews. Many consumers read websites such as Yelp when choosing a businesses to patronize. We business-owners should understand this new phenomenon and deal with its repercussions, especially negative reviews.
  • The Importance of Writing Good Legal Content
    What is Good Legal Content? Good Legal Content is content that serves two purposes, one it gains the attention of the reader, hopefully one who is a potential client. The content gives them enough information and intrigues them enough to make them want to contact your office for more information, or better yet a consultation.
  • What is a Work for Hire Agreement?
    If you are commissioning someone to work on a project for you, are not a traditional employer, and yet want to retain all rights to the work created, it becomes important to understand "work for hire" agreements.
  • Bipartisan Bill Looks to Crack Down on Rogue Websites
    A bipartisan group in the U.S. House of Representatives recently introduced legislation intended to combat the illegal distribution of counterfeit goods via rogue websites hosted overseas. The proposed bill greatly expands protections for intellectual property (IP) and, if passed, would bring sweeping changes to copyright law.



Contact a Lawyer

Find a Local Lawyer