12 July 2010
I was asked by a business support agency to supply “legal advice on intellectual property issues” to a web design, web hosting and marketing service which was carried on by a sole trader. On talking to the client I learned told me that the proprietor wanted me to review and revise his terms and conditions of business and privacy statement and to suggest ways in which he could protect his brand.
The client told me that he advertised his services over the internet but did not enter online contracts with consumers. As he provided an “information society service” within the meaning of regulation 2 (1) of The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 I advised that he had to comply with those regulations, the Data Protection Act 1998 and possibly The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 but not The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 unless and until he changed the nature of his business. I made clear that my advice did not connote a general regulatory compliance check and that he should read, digest and regularly consult the excellent Business Link guide to e-commerce and the law and take further professional advice if necessary to make sure that he was complying with the law.
I reviewed and amended his existing terms and conditions, drafted a privacy statement and website access terms and advised him on how he could protect his brand by registering a trade mark. I gave his some general advice on trade secrets and copyright law and advised him to consider IP insurance as one of means of enforcing those rights. Finally, I introduced him to the CIPA and ITMA directories of patent and trade mark agents and gave him the names of local attorneys in the IP Yorkshire network who shared the IP mission.