Businesses increasingly use Internet blogging to reach the public and increase their client bases. Setting up a blog to share knowledge and information and promote your products or services can bring your business's name to the attention of a wide range of people. However, laws regulate the practice.
Beware of Unintentional Cyber-Squatting
You must make sure the domain name you've chosen for your business blog isn't too similar to anyone else's. If you deliberately choose a domain name very close to that of one of your competitors, this may be considered "cyber-squatting," which is against the law. Typically, your competitor would have to prove that you chose the name in a deliberate effort to siphon business from the competitor's site to yours.
Consider Copyright Infringement
If you write all your own blog copy, you're probably safe from violating copyright laws. However, if you use content written by someone else, especially if you do it without permission, you may have broken the law. You can protect your business from accidental copyright infringement by registering with the government's trademark office. That way, someone in your business will receive notices if you unintentionally copy someone else's work. You must include contact information for this agent on your website. You must remove the work immediately if your agent receives such a notice.
Trademarks Can Be Infringed Too
Infringement applies to more than text. If you use another business's slogan or image on your blog page, you could be violating trademark law. However, there are exceptions. If your business does not gain financially from use of the trademark, you may not be in violation of the law, especially if you're in a completely different business. You can also use the trademarks of other businesses to promote their products. However, if you use your blog to ridicule or say negative things about the company holding the trademark, you could be in legal trouble.
Be careful when you use your blog to express your opinions of, or make accusations about, other people or companies. You need solid facts to back up what you've said. If what you say isn't true, you've left yourself open for a libel charge. Federal and state shield laws protect journalists from having to reveal their sources to a court. However, the line between bloggers and journalists is a bit blurred. A court may rule that you do not have the right to protect the identity of your sources.
A Business Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding e-commerce and blogging is complicated and evolving. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a business lawyer.