The Terms and Conditions (otherwise known as Terms of Use or Terms of Service) is the contract between the website and its users. A custom Terms of Use protect you from many types of liability, but only if it’s done properly. Every website should post Terms and Conditions that set out the relationship, rights, and responsibilities of the website and its users. Terms of Use are very important for any website selling products or offering professional consulting.

Why Would You Need an Attorney for Your Terms of Use and Privacy Policy?

Terms and Conditions include warranties, delivery terms of both goods and services, and return policies. The website Terms and Conditions should be full of limitations on liability for website owners and clauses providing for certain dispute resolution procedures. These include litigation, arbitration or mediation as well as the location for bringing claims.

The importance of Terms and Conditions is underrated, but successful businesses know it’s important to use a NY business and technology attorney to draft custom Terms and Conditions. Every business is different, so one size fits all just doesn’t work. You have to ensure your website and you are properly protected from threats through a custom Terms and Conditions. For example, if your website hosts large amounts of user content, the clauses regarding spamming and voxxing must be extremely comprehensive to avoid liability and legal disputes arising between users. A business law attorney might suggest that there needs to be a moderator on call at all times to delete defamatory statements and ban users that defame or invade the privacy of other users offsite.

What Type of Company Needs an Attorney Drafted Terms and Conditions?

Terms of Use are important for both e-commerce websites and any website that sells products, as well as websites of professional services companies. Not all Terms and Conditions are enforceable, just like any contract if they are copied from various online forms then contracts, including Terms and Conditions and privacy policies, will likely not be clear and enforceable for both your company and any partner companies that are part of the online process. That’s why it’s a good idea to hire an experienced New York business law attorney to draft custom Terms and Conditions that specifically address the needs of your website and your underlying business.

How Terms and Conditions Protect Businesses from Liability

If a legal dispute arises, the courts will examine the website’s Terms and Conditions/Terms of Use for a preliminary assessment of a complaint’s validity. In many cases, a properly drafted Terms and Conditions statement will be enough to get most frivolous claims dismissed early on “summary judgment,” saving tens of thousands of dollars in legal costs. Additionally, it’s also important for Terms and Conditions to need to robustly protect your content from theft or unintended use so that you are well-positioned to sue users that misappropriate or misuse your material.

Using boilerplate templates might be good enough for a personal or small student blog, but businesses are penny wise and dollar foolish if they don’t invest in hiring an experienced New York business and technology law attorney to draft custom Terms and Conditions that properly protect their company’s specific website and underlying business.

Key Points to Have in a Terms of Use

The most important element of a Terms and Conditions statement is what’s known as the “limit of liability” or “disclaimer” clause. It should always disclaim responsibility for errors and omissions in the website content. It should also warn users against reliance on its material for any particular purpose. For consulting and professional services companies, the Terms of Use should clarify that the use of material on the site does not constitute the formation of a professional relationship. If a website posts user comments or content, it’s important to remove accountability for posts that might be considered offensive or misleading. It’s also prudent to state that third party content is not endorsed by the website and does not necessarily align with their opinion.

Intellectual Property & Compliance with Internet Law Compliances

The Terms of Use should heavily protect the website owner’s intellectual property. Use of logos, names, slogans, website copy, images and many other things need to be clearly prohibited from being used.  A website needs to have a copyright notice, for all its content and branding, that indicates that it is the intellectual property of the owner of the site. It’s extremely important for anyone selling goods to post the terms for their Refund/Return/Exchange Policy and to state that the website will not be liable for manufacturing defects. These are just some examples of what must be included to protect some kinds of businesses. To fully protect your business, you should work with an experienced business law attorney to draft custom Terms and Conditions for your site and app.

A few important Acts that your Terms and Conditions must address to provide protection should to legal challenges are:

  • Restore Online Shopper’s Confidence Act,
  • Computer Fraud and Abuse Act,
  • Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA),
  • CAN-SPAM Act, and
  • Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

To limit liability from banned users, it’s also important to properly address the grounds for termination of an account. If the website allows users to store their content, it’s especially important to decide whether the termination will result in forfeiture and destruction of their content, or whether it will be returned to the user. For international sites with owners at only one location, it’s especially important to have a “governing law” clause that limits jurisdiction to where the owner lives.  A top New York business law attorney who specializes in technology and internet law will review every detail or your business and website to ensure that you are fully protected by your Terms and Conditions statement.

Call a Terms and Conditions attorney at 212-537-9209 or click below to schedule a complimentary strategy call.

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