With most businesses relying heavily on the internet and social media to operate and advertise, seeking legal advice from a tech lawyer has become increasingly important.

So what is a tech lawyer?

We use the term “tech lawyer” to describe a lawyer who understands the mechanisms of running an online business. Having worked with a multitude of online businesses, we know that there are many factors in running an online business that a lawyer who is not accustomed to working with traditional business models may not be familiar with.

So what specific knowledge can a tech lawyer offer to my business?

Business terms and conditions

When you’re running an online business, you generally will not have any face-to-face contact with customers. However, this does not have to impact on the quality of services that you provide customers. By putting together a detailed set of business terms and conditions, you can clearly set out how your business works so that your customers will be able to understand what your business is all about without speaking to you about it in person. A tech lawyer can even draft your terms and conditions so that you can provide them online and your customers can agree to the terms without having to manually print off a copy, sign them and return them to you. 

Payment mechanisms

If you are accepting payments online for your business, your terms and conditions will need to reflect this. However, it may not be enough to simply state that your online business does not accept cash payments. A tech lawyer will be able to draft provisions that detail whether you will accept payment through external payment mechanisms such a Paypal or credit cards. They can also include provisions that will protect you in case your customers enter incorrect information into the payment gateways, or to provide you with enough time to process payments before sending purchased goods or services to your customers.

Intellectual property

An important role of tech lawyers is to protect any intellectual property that may appear on your website. Since online businesses rely heavily on their websites to provide useful information and present eye-catching graphics to customers, it is important that your intellectual property is protected against infringement. A tech lawyer can insert provisions into your terms and conditions or create a website terms of use document which clearly sets out how use of any intellectual property on your website is restricted.

Software development

If you are in the process of creating a website for your small business, you may be engaging a software developer for his or her website development services. If so, it is a good idea to enter into a software development agreement with your developer. A tech lawyer will be able to draft such a software development agreement with specific clauses to suit your online business needs. Such an agreement is different from service agreements that most lawyers are familiar with due to the differences between traditional methods of providing services and the software development process. For example, software development often happens in phases, correspondence between parties is often exchanged through online means, such as Basecamp, and a percentage of technical errors will need to be identified as acceptable, since hardly any website will be error-free. 

Conclusion

Tech lawyers are extremely useful for online businesses and for business owners who do not have the time to get traditional lawyers up to speed on how their business functions on the internet. If you would like to find out more about tech lawyers, give us a call and we will put you in contact with a tech lawyer straight away!

Ursula Hogben

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