written by Oyindamola Oyeduntan, Heirs Holdings
If there is one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it is that doing business remotely is here to stay. Even more so, many online businesses have been birthed and more will be birthed. Every online business owner must ensure that their business is protected, and crossing the checklist below can help you determine how protected you are:
An online business, like every other business, should be properly registered with the companies’ registry of the country of operation from and issued with a certificate of registration or incorporation. If you opt for a company incorporation, the registration will confer on your business a separate legal personality from you. This means that your business is by law identified to have its own rights and ability to carry on activities like a natural person including entering contracts and owning its property. It will also limit your personal liability to a defined value.
Name of your business
The name of your business is a simple yet critical factor. This is because your brand is attached to that name especially being an online business.
Registering your business officially is a good way to protect your business name as once registered, another entity should ordinarily not be able to register a business with the same name.
Domain name registration
The domain name of your business will also need to be secured, ideally in the same business name or a variant of the name.
A further protection is to ensure that your business name and logo are registered as a trademark. If you have products with key distinguishing names, marks, or designs, these should also be registered as trademarks before you go online.
Other Intellectual Property rights
In the online world, being virtual gives rise to various intellectual property rights which are based on intangible assets. These rights include copyrights, trademarks, and their infringements. As an online business owner, you need to understand the various intellectual property rights that attach to your business, how these can be infringed, steps to take to prevent infringements and how to redress infringements if they do occur. You also want to be careful not to infringe of anyone’s rights in the process of marketing your products or services.
In conclusion, an online business is still a business and therefore needs to be properly set up to benefit from the legal rights arising from registration. Being online, the intellectual property considerations are more emphasised and need to be properly understood and protected.
Oyinda Oyeduntan is the Legal Advisor for Heirs Holdings, a family-owned investment company with key investments across Africa.