If you have a new business idea, it is likely that you have carried out the preliminary business planning steps such as researching the market, assessing the feasibility of the offering and working out how payments will be structured and how your cash flow will work. However, beyond the initial business planning steps, there are legal hurdles you must jump over before your business can trade online. This article will look at a checklist of essential items to consider as a business owner who is opening up an Internet business.

Structuring an Internet Business

You need to think about incorporating a company as a vehicle for the business, if not something a little more sophisticated involving a trust or holding company – if you are thinking of trying to raise equity funding. Things can get very complicated later if assets need to be transferred between persons and entities so often it is better to start off with a proprietary company limited by shares even if you are the only shareholder at the start!

Legal Documents

A Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) – You need a form of the confidentiality agreement to use with developers, designers consultants and other that you may need to reveal your business concept. Anyone (except possibly your mother).

Supplier Agreements – You need clear agreements with the relevant supplier stakeholders about what they are going to deliver to you and what you are going to pay them for that. These agreements must include an assignment of the intellectual property they are creating for you, or at the very least a broad and exclusive licence of that property, so it’s obvious it is an asset of your new business.

Website Documents – You need to get the website legal documents set up properly – this includes website terms and conditions, privacy policy and user terms. If your site is a marketplace, the last document covers both you and the sellers and buyers in the marketplace.

Protect Your Brand

This is a three-step process, which is often going in the background during steps 1-4 above. You need to register the company/business name you want, domain name/s and possibly register the trade mark, particularly if there are logos involved. Ideally, these names will all be consistent. In doing this you need to be checking that the names are available to you – that is, not only available to register but that there is not another business in the same or a similar industry that is trading using a similar name that consumers may get confused with your business. Starting up on that basis can cause a world of pain for you later on. We call these searches “freedom to operate” searches. The above steps are a very basic guide to the journey of many of our clients.

Key Takeaways

Setting up an Internet business can be an exciting time. It’s important not to overlook the essential legal documents to get your business off the ground. LegalVision’s online lawyers can assist you every step of the way with your journey as well. Questions? Call us on 1300 544 755.

Catherine Logan

Next Steps

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