November 30, 2012

A Website Agreement Lawyer Can Help You Better Understand Your Business Model

Should you use a website agreement forms service or have an experienced website agreement lawyer tailor your website agreements to your specific needs?

A good website agreement lawyer or attorney can really help you protect your business and your website. Because what you are going to have in those website agreements, terms of use, terms of service, the privacy agreement for your website, is you are going to have the contract between you and your website visitors. Between your small business, big business, and the registered user. Between your customer through the website and relating to your e-commerce platform. How transactions, returns, warranties, and guarantees are going to work. It is very important to understand that there are many benefits to having solid, legally reviewed website agreements as part of your website platform, usually in the footer, so that it appears on all pages. One particular point that I, as an internet law attorney, want to talk about today is the benefit of better understanding your business model.

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A good website agreement lawyer or attorney can really help you protect your business and your website. Because what you are going to have in those website agreements, terms of use, terms of service, the privacy agreement for your website, is you are going to have the contract between you and your website visitors. Between your small business, big business, and the registered user. Between your customer through the website and relating to your e-commerce platform. How transactions, returns, warranties, and guarantees are going to work. It is very important to understand that there are many benefits to having solid, legally reviewed website agreements as part of your website platform, usually in the footer, so that it appears on all pages. One particular point that I, as an internet law attorney, want to talk about today is the benefit of better understanding your business model.

My name is Website Agreement Attorney Enrico Schaefer and today we are going to talk about your business model. You have a company. Might be a small business or a large business. It might be a start-up with angel investors funding your way to get launched. You probably have website developers and programmers who are working on your play, if you're a start-up. You may have millions or tens of millions of dollars worth of business already, and now you're realizing that you probably need to upgrade your terms of use, or your privacy agreement, or your copyright policy on your website. What's going to happen when you hire a lawyer who specializes in internet technology issues is an analysis of your business model. What we do, as attorneys working with clients on website agreements, is we interview the client about what kind of information either they’re gathering on their website, through Google Analytics or when they're asking website visitors to fill in online forms. For instance, to register as a user of the website or to conduct an e-commerce transaction to the e-commerce platform. What kind of information are they collecting? What are you doing as a business, as a website operator, with that information? What the lawyer ends up really doing is pulling the business model out of the client. Let me give you an example.

As we work through these issues with the client, we ask them what are all the contracts that they have with customers, vendors, distributors, website vendors whose applications that they've incorporated into the websites, such as, could be as simple as Word Press or Analytics, or,  it could be some sort of rating service plug-in that they've put out on their website. What are all the agreements that they've got out there, with all the different stakeholders, all the different people that could interact with their website. Or the people who are providing services to their website. As a result of seeing those contracts, you start to see the relationships of the website owner with the world. Those are the relationships that you need to account for in your website agreements, especially in your terms of service and your privacy agreement. Then, the questions start to get more detailed once you see those contracts. Then, you need to better understand: Is the warranty or guarantee that you're providing to your registered users, who may purchase things through your e-commerce portal, are those in fact the ones that you have been abiding by? What we often find with clients on website agreement projects is that they use some sort of website agreement form, or boiler plate language, as part of their initial hunch of the website. And that, the things in the terms of use, or the terms of service, aren't actually what they're doing day in and day out. What we do is, we try and match the business practice, what's actually happening on the ground with the way the company works with the website agreements, the terms of use, the terms of service, the privacy agreement. That requires you to customize, right? Because once you understand what the business model is, and you understand what technology is incorporated in a website, now as an internet law attorney who specializes in this area, you can start to see what particular clauses need to go into the website agreement. And what customization needs to be done on top of those clauses to match the specific business model of the client to the website operator. One of the benefits that you get here is an attorney who's kind of grilling you on, 'Well what about this? And what about that? How does your warranty system work? When someone makes a warranty claim, what is your warranty policy? Then, how does that actually roll out, in terms of returned goods back to you? How do you process credits to the transaction, or the credit card transaction? Is it a replacement policy? How do things get mailed?' Really, the nuts and bolts of the little things like that in the operation of your business are really important when drafting the website agreement. It really is going to be a benefit to you to make sure that you get your website agreement updated. That you don't use a website agreement form, but you use a custom approach where the attorney actually digs into your business model. Make sure that your liabilities are being covered, that the image you want to project as a company, in terms of customer service, is baked into your agreement, so that you're telling the visitor, your potential customer, your registered user, what it is you believe as a company and how you're interacting with these folks in terms of your persona. You can have a very aggressive website agreement where you basically say, “This is as-is. You get no warranties. You get no contract rights. You give up your contract rights.” Or you could have a much more customer service friendly terms of use that says, “We want you to be happy. We have a great return policy. Here's how it works. We respect your privacy. We don't collect certain information. We would never share information.” These are the types of issues that you've got to decide. Who are you as a company? What is your business process? My name is Website Agreement Attorney, Enrico Schaefer. We'll see you next time.

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