So, you’re a small business owner and you want to increase your inbound leads? You turn to website development, social media, digital marketing or print or radio ads. That’s fantastic and really exciting. But there are legal pitfalls you could fall into and we’d like to help you avoid them so you can get on with enjoying all that new work you’ve generated.
Here are the top 5 legal mistakes to avoid:
1. False and Misleading Statements
Now you know how amazing your product or service is and you’re dying to tell the world. While it is tempting to promote yourself or your product as the next best thing, you need to be careful about what you say and how you say it. Anything that you say about yourself, your business and your products cannot be in any way false or misleading. We all understand the difference between true and false, but the concept of being misleading is much broader. ‘Misleading’ can include leaving key information out, or not displaying information prominently. It can also include encouraging, allowing or leading customers to have an impression that is not accurate. False and Misleading Statements can lead to penalties, such as one internet service provider who was recently fined $2m for not prominently displaying its minimum pricing. It’s always best to check your marketing messages with your lawyer for anything that may appear false or misleading in any way.
So what is a warranty and why would you want to avoid making them? Warranties are essentially a promise that you make about your business. This includes statements / promises about the quality of goods or services, standards, timeliness, what things can be used for, being better than other products etc. Whenever you make statements of this nature they could be considered a warranty, a promise to your customer about what they can expect. This can then give the customer enforceable rights. The message here is that if you decide to make warranties, make sure that they can be satisfied.
Consumer Law provides the standards / guarantees that you must abide by in your business. If you do not meet those guarantees, then the consumer has remedies against you, such as being able to receive a refund. Whenever you prepare any marketing or advertising information, review it twice to make sure you’re not making statements about guarantees that would contradict what is provided for by law. If you do, they will not only have no effect, but you could be opening yourself up to penalties.
4. Social Media
It’s so easy to upload new offers and make claims on social media these days that we fail to think about the implications of what we’re sharing. This is by far the easiest legal pitfall we see business owners making. Remember, when advertising and promoting your business on social media, all of the normal laws still apply! Social media provides a more informal avenue to run competitions, and advertise your business and social media providers have their own rules about advertising. The laws around defamation, copyright, and false and misleading statements – still apply to social media.
5. Intellectual Property
The use of images on your website, blog or social media page has become commonplace. The internet provides a plethora of content! In this environment, it can be easy to forget that intellectual property rights can apply. Check for a copyright symbol when you are considering using another person’s content. If you cannot find a claim for copyright you should acknowledge the author or at least the source of the content to protect yourself from a claim of breaching intellectual property rights.
Need legal advice?
Avoid legal pitfalls when marketing your business. If you’re unsure and want to clarify your obligations, you can get a Quick Consult with Fiona McCord or a Quick consult with experienced lawyers. With Quick Consult, a lawyer will call you back on the phone within 1-2 days to answer your questions from a transparent, flat fee.
This article does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area. If you require any advice or information, please speak to practicing lawyer in your jurisdiction. No individual who is a member, partner, shareholder or consultant of, in or to any constituent part of Interstellar Group Pte. Ltd. accepts or assumes responsibility, or has any liability, to any person in respect of this article.