This is a platform for User Generated Content. G/O Media assumes no liability for content posted by Kinja users to this platform.

3 Key Legal Issues Online Marketers Need to Know About

Marketing can be extremely beneficial for your business. It consolidates already-existing client relationships and builds new ones.

However, there are several key legal issues you need to be aware of before you start contacting customers or potential Let’s begin by looking at privacy and the online collection and storage of dat1. Privacy and Data CollectionIt may seem simplistic to point out that before you can send marketing emails or messages, you need to collect the contact information of your customers or potential customers. Yet, the actual process of collecting the information is far more complex than it seems, particularlMost jurisdictions around the world have privacy legislation in place that requires you to notify people before you collect their personal information. This In the US, there is no overarching privacy law that applies to the collection of data, but California has a piece of legislation that covers online privacy – theCalifornia Online Privacy Protection Act(OPPA). It requires that you need to If you have an online store or if you’re marketing to people online in the US, you’re quite likely to have customers or potential customers in California, so yoThe easiest way to comply is to set up a Privacy Policy on your website and requTo make sure your customer’s or user’s agreement will stand up legally,use a clickwrap method. A clickwrap method is where your customer or user has to click “I Agree” to your Privacy Policy in some way. This could be when they sign up to receive your marketing messages or when they make a purchasIn this example, the customer or user is required to tick the box to agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy of The Weather Channel before they can reIt’s also important to reassure your customers that once you’ve collected their information, you will keep it secure. Your users need to feel they can trust you. You can show them you are trustworthy by informing them about hTake a look at this example from Google that lists the protection mechanOne simple way to protect customer privacy when you collect information is to usesecurity mechanisms such as SSL. SSL means that the connection between your website and the user’s browser is secure when data is transmitted. EnsureAnother potential security issue is the storage of customer data. A popular way for many online businesses and marketing companies to store data is to use cloud storage providers. To reassure your customers that you are keAnd, preferably, choose a reputable provider within your own jurisdiction. This is because some jurisdictions have legal requirements that data should either not be transferred out (ormust be accessible even if it is stored overseas) If you use a cloud storage provider, you need to ensure that your Privacy Policy and/or your website Terms of Use cover the situation in which a cloud storage provider has a privacy breach and your customer data is released. Here’s an exaYou can see that the clause limits Amazon’s liability and includes no liability for loss to any files. You want to ensure that you are not liable if a third party (the cloud storage provider) has a data leak. To maintain customer trust, u2. Intellectual Property Issues


The next legal issue to consider as a marketer is intellectual property. First, you want to protect your own intellectual property, such as trademarks and copyright. Second, you want to ensure tIf you are sending out marketing emails or contacting people with flyers or adveRegistering a trademark gives you the exclusive right to use a specific word or words, name, design, or logo in connection with specific goods or servicBefore you register yours, check that you are not infringing on anyone else’s trademark and that your logo is not too similar to someone else’s. The easiest way to do this is to have your lawyer check whether your proposed mark is siYou cansearch the US Trademark Database yourself, but an intellectual property lawyer will have a better idea of what you need to search for. Sometimes you need to search for the same trademark in multiple categories of goods; for example, a trademark that you want to register for marketing relating When you’re ready to file your trademark application online, in the US, you can use theTrademark Electronic Application System.If you use original marketing language on your website or text in emails, you may want to copyright that text. Copyright relates to authorship of original works, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, architectural, and a broad range of otheIf you work with any third parties who write your marketing copy or text for you, ensure that their work is checked for plagiarism. You don’t want to infringe oHere’s an example from Ads Direct of what you might include in your Terms of Service to protect your intellectual property:You can see that they list a number of different types of intellectual property (names, graphics, logos, etc.) and that they also claim they do not own any third-party names, trademarks, or service marks that may appear on their website. If you partner with any otThe Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has dominion over several key areas relevant to marketers: privacy, anti-spam legislation, and truth in advertising. We3. Advertising

TheFTC requiresthat advertisements and marketing messages must not mislead consumers or unfairly affect consumers’ behavior or decisions about the product or service. Unfair or deceptiBe careful with anycomparative advertising or marketing. If you don’t compare products fairly and transparently, you may be breaching advertising standards. Check the wording of your marketing messages carefully and ensure that someone outside of your marketing team (such as someone fromOther regulators on the advertising front that you may need to keep in mind are theAdvertising Self-Regulatory Council, which governs the National Advertising Review Board and the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARThe main anti-spam law in the US is calledCAN-SPAM. The FTC enforces CANWe’ve covered this previously. To recap, CAN-SPAM requires that you:The FTC also has agreat guide that provides a checklist and guidelinesto help you make your business “consumer friendly” overall for international ecommerce. Before you begin marketing your business, be sure that you’ve incorporatIf you get into trouble with the FTC or any other consumer protection body, be prompt and clear in your communication with them. Aim to workConclusion


To comply with the law, the key things to remember are: get consent to send your marketing material; ensure that your customers are aware of and sign up to your Privacy Policy when you originalAs a marketer, you may be wary of legal pitfalls, but by keeping the issues of privacy and data protection, intellectual property, and consumer protection laws and regulations in the forefront of your mind, you can ensure that you won’t run into any problems.

Illustration for article titled 3 Key Legal Issues Online Marketers Need to Know About

ly obtain their information; protect your intellectual property and don’t infringe on that of others; be honest and clear with all marketing messages; and allow your customers to opt out of your messages if they wish.

together toward a solution right away, as it may help you avoid prosecution.

ed some consumer friendly business tips so that you don’t run into trouble further down the line.


-SPAM and has issued guidance on how to comply.

U). If any of your marketing is targeted at children, ensure that you are fully aware ofCARU’s guidelines.


your legal team) has a quick look at what your message is saying. A fresh pair of eyes may notice claims that aren’t quite true or descriptions that overemphasize a product’s abilities.

ve advertising is prohibited, which means that any marketing must tell the truth and not leave out any relevant information that a consumer would be interested in.


’ve already covered privacy above, so let’s take a look at some of the FTC’s rules on advertising and anti-spam practices.

her organizations or use quality assurance marks on your marketing materials, this may also be worth covering in your clause.


n someone else’s copyrighted work when sending out your emails or newsletters.

r works.

to a supermarket roadshow may come under categories relating to food, alcohol, other beverages, supermarkets and retail stores, marketing, and many more.


milar to any other marks. The lawyer will search an intellectual property register, namely theUS Trademark Database. They may also search international registers or registers in other jurisdictions, depending on how broadly you plan to market using your mark.

es. It is valid for 10 years and is renewable if certain requirements are met.

rtisements, the first thing you will need to protect is your brand or logo.

hat you don’t infringe on the intellectual property of others. Let’s take a look at the main types of intellectual property protection you may need.


se only reputable providers and be transparent about whom your customer data is stored with.


mple from Amazon of that type of clause:

or shouldbe transferred only to jurisdictions with similar legal protectionsfor the data in place. If you overlook this fact and store data with a cloud storage provider in another jurisdiction that has inadequate protections, you may be in breach of your local laws.


eping their data safe, always choose a reputable provider.

that any websites you use with your customers have SSL enabled.


isms they have in place:

ow you will protect and store their information.

ceive the newsletter.


e on your website. Here’s an example of what a clickwrap method looks like:

ire your customers or website users to agree to it when you collect information from them.


u should take care to comply with this law.


includes someone who is already a customer, although theUK has some slightly more permissive lawsfor people who have already purchased something from you.


y if you’re trying to collect it in a legally compliant manner.


customers. The three main legal areas you need to consider are privacy and data collection, intellectual property issues, and rules and regulations of the FTC and other consumer protection bodies.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter