Online businesses are expanding in Australia, as more and more businesses make their way online to reduce their start-up costs. Although online businesses are not as difficult to set up as a business that operates from a premise, ensuring its continued success requires skill and expertise. Before you purchase an online business, ensure you are aware of your legal obligations.

Maybe the first thing to ask is what value the online business has. Although lawyers do not assist with valuation of a business (this is usually the job of accountants or business brokers), understanding the value of the business will give you a clearer picture of the legal aspects of the purchase.

Intellectual Property

No matter what sort of online business it is, intellectual property adds value to an online business. The intellectual property could be in the branding of the business, for example in its trade marks. It could also be in creative works the business provides, for example videos, tips, blogs or manuals. Be sure you are aware of all the possible intellectual property assets in the business and discuss with the vendor if this will be a part of the sale and how it will be assigned to you. In most situations you can include this in the Sale of Business Agreement.

Software

If there is a unique software used to run the online business, you need to make the appropriate enquiries with the vendor to make sure it is either owned by them and capable of being transferred to you or licensed for use. Alternatively, you may need to get in touch with a third party provider to ensure you are able to use the software without infringing another party’s intellectual property. A Sale of Business Agreement should include a warranty from the vendor that they are capable of assigning or licensing the use of software to you.

Domain Names

In Australia, the .au Domain Registration Ltd take care of domain name registration and change of ownership. Although in most cases changing the owner of the domain name is a simple process, it would still be a good idea to include a transfer of the domain name to you as soon as you begin operating. This will help prevent any disputes or issues that may arise at a later stage.

Social Media

If the business has existing social media pages such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, discuss whether this will be included in the sale. The ownership of a social media page may be able to add value to your business and by having existing pages transferred to you, you may be able to build on an already existing network of fans.

Conclusion

Online businesses vary from eCommerce stores, community platforms or news/blog websites. Due to the variety of business out there, there is no one-size-fits-all agreement that can cover all terms and conditions you may need included in the purchase of the business. Our LegalVision lawyers specialise in online business law and certainly know the value of purchasing an online business. Speak to one of our team to discuss your purchase of the online business.

 

Kristine Biason

Next Steps

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