Running an online business

For start-ups establishing an online business, there are many legal issues to be considered before your business kicks off.

Businesses must comply with their legal obligations to ensure their business and consumers are protected under relevant laws. Whether you run your entire business online or provide just some of your services, it is important to be aware of the legal issues involved.

The first step to setting up your online business is registering your URL. When deciding on a URL ensure the name you intend to use is not already being used by someone else, is not already trademarked or can be protected by trademark registration. The best way to avoid this is by doing a trademark search and an organisations and business names search to ensure you do not infringe trademark or copy someone else’s name.

Website terms and conditions
Every website should specify the terms and conditions under which visitors can access it, even if your website does not sell any goods or services. Setting out terms and conditions ensures you have a clear agreement in place for visitors and allows you to set limits on what visitors can do with the intellectual property on your website. Also, it can minimise the risk of visitors taking legal action against you or your business.

If your website does sell goods and services you will need to provide refunds and exchanges to comply with the Australian Consumer Law. The Australian Consumer Law covers the basic rights for consumers in relation to rights to a repair, replacement or refund as well as compensation for damages and loss and being able to cancel a faulty service. Your website’s terms and conditions must cover this law.

Privacy policy
A privacy policy will describe how your business handles personal information to its website users. A privacy policy needs to state what information the business will gather from the users of the website and how it will use and secure the information. It serves as a disclosure document, alerting your users to the level of privacy they will be entitled to whilst using your website.

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