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Kennethti
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Love Alice, post: 82334 wrote:
Hi everyone!

After a few years now, playing around, testing the water with products that sell, I am now ready to get serious. I am developing a brand and I am now waiting on final trademark approvals/creating website etc. I create jewellery myself and want to sell online through my own website. In the future I will be outsourcing some of the work to China, (creating jewellery from my designs) as I progress, but currently it is all made in my own studio.

I want to protect myself, and I was wondering if any one could give advice, or suggest a possible situation that could cause trouble for me.

I am about to talk to an accountant, about sole trader vs. company etc and I would like to talk to some kind of legal rep but I am unsure of where to go to. Where do I find people that specialise in the terms and conditions for a website?

For example, I sell children’s jewellery, so I need to have on my packaging the standard “Choking Hazard” warning. I am working on a disclaimer, in case anyone suffers an allergic reaction from wearing my product. For example, a bride might where a necklace from me, have a skin reaction and her wedding day/photos are ruined. I do my best to clean and make sure everything is safe for my customers as I would for myself, but in reality things do happen.

What other scenarios could happen in my line of business? You hear about more and more insane law suits coming up, and it scares me some what.

Warm regards

Alice

Hello Alice,

I think you’ve got off on the right foot and that is to be proactive in relation to your business and making sure you have all your bases covered.

Your accountant can commonly recommend a local solicitor and this is where I would normally start off with. Unless your issues are highly specific, a general practice can normally assist with your matter.

That being the case, these are some of the questions you would have to consider:

  1. Who are you selling to – individuals or other retailers?
  2. If wholesale – Is there a need for terms of trade?
  3. Disclaimers – Keep in mind that warnings and disclaimers are good, however you cannot possibly cover every single situation (or else you might end up with an excessively verbose disclaimer). In some circumstances disclaimers may even be considered unjust and rejected by a court.
  4. Warranty – Are you providing any? What is the extent?
  5. Contracts with suppliers – What are their content, who are they with?
  6. Contracts with suppliers outside Australia – Who are they, where are they based, and what happens in the situation where there is a dispute. Chinese firms are notorious for copying designs and passing them off as their own. You must choose the right person to work with because potentially if something goes wrong you may end up facing a situation where litigation can only be carried out in China, and the costs of doing that is prohibitive.
  7. Intellectual Property – Trade Marks and branding will be important and it is on you to enforce those trade marks.
  8. Collecting personal information from online customers – Make sure that any information collected is secure, use the Privacy Act as a guideline.

There are a lot of other considerations to take into account, and it is best to sit with a lawyer local to you – the law from state to state does differ slightly, and the processes available to you also changes depending on your location.

I write on a business blog called http://www.business-lawyer.com.au, and I also write on a trade marks blog called http://www.trademark-lawyer.com.au