Does your business have a website? Do you sell products or services online? Are you complying with relevant laws and protecting your business?
In the past, businesses were bricks and mortar. It was difficult to take a competitor’s intellectual property, as their images were framed on the walls, and their copy was in their pamphlets on the shop counter. Now it is much easier for a competitor to take your intellectual property. We see examples ranging from taking images from websites, copying website content, all the way through to copying the look, feel, and logos. Our clients often ask about the difference between Website Terms and Sales/Business Terms. This article will elaborate further on this distinction.
Your Website Terms apply to all visitors using your website. These help to protect your website. Website Terms detail what users can do with your site, what is prohibited and includes a disclaimer to limit your liability when they access your website. Our Website Terms set out your intellectual property rights clearly. They include that you own the intellectual property rights as between you and the user. You give the user permission (a license) to use your website for a specific limited purpose, and for non-commercial use. We include that competitors cannot use your site for their purposes.
Our Website Terms set out that your content is not advice and that you are not liable for it. For example, an accountant needs disclaimers that content on their website is not financial, tax or accounting advice. A health coach or alternative medical practitioner needs disclaimers that their advice is not medical advice.
Sales Terms or Business Terms
Your Sales/Business Terms apply to every client or customer who buys from your website. These are generally called Sales Terms for businesses who sell products, and Business Terms or a Client Agreement for businesses that sell services.
The first thing that Sales/Business Terms do is set out what you will do and how. For example, are you selling products? When will you deliver them? How will you deliver them? Are you selling services? What services will you provide? How do you provide them? What time-frame? Online businesses in Australia are obliged to adhere to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, particularly Schedule 2 the Australian Consumer Law. The Australian Consumer Law sets out mandatory consumer guarantees that protect consumers. Your Sales/Business Terms set out any warranties that you will give, and set out things for which you are not liable. For example, a fridge five-year warranty is a warranty that is over and above the Australian Consumer requirements. Your Sales/Business Terms also disclaim what you are not liable for. For example, you are not liable if the fridge is pierced with a sharp object.
In conclusion, Website Terms help to protect your website, including your content, images, look and feel, and your branding. Sales/Business Terms help to protect your business, including clarifying the consumer contract, addressing consumer law issues and limiting your liability.