In the United States, two main E-Commerce laws exist, UETA, or the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, and ESIGN, or the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act. UETA basically makes sure that all states are in agreement regarding electronic commerce law, and it includes a major provision stating that one will no longer have to keep paper copies of books and files. Not having to have paper copies of everything makes electronic commerce much easier.
ESIGN controls interstate commerce, which is commerce that crosses state lines. ESIGN makes sure that a signature cannot be denied simply because it is digital. An electronic signature carries just as much as a written one.
E-commerce can have some legal issues, especially regarding electronic signatures and security. One of these issues is that the people involved in a contract are actually who they are claiming to be. Protecting everyone involved in these contracts require biometrics and sophisticated digital signatures. Another issue regards forming contracts and contract laws. Contract laws need to be tailored to meet the needs of digital contracts.
Along with this, the internet is not always as reliable as we’d like it to be. An internet outage during the formation of a contract can have a serious effect on the outcome of the contract being negotiated. This is especially true during the offer and acceptance phases of contracts.
Then the issue of Intellectual Property (IP). Intellectual Property law may be split up into a few different areas but in essence, we can see that there are copyright laws and industrial property law. Copyright law is protecting owners’ rights in regard to their creative works or processes and regulates exclusive rights for reproduction, controlled production, or adaption of any sort of creative work. You can read more about Intellectual Property Law in this article.
Now back to Electronic Commerce Law. Aside from Illinois, Washington and New York, who have their own similar electronic commerce laws, UETA is active in all states. UETA makes sure that there are no conflicting laws between different states regarding e-commerce.
This helps people who are contracting across state lines to avoid problems with laws that mean different things in different states. If one state accepted digital signatures and another one did not, an electronic contract would not be possible between those two states, so UETA helps regulate that. Laws for electronic commerce help make electronic commerce as much of an option as a traditional contract, and it helps more people enter the virtual marketplace.
E-commerce laws are always evolving and can be extremely complicated, and can easily cause a person who is not well versed in electronic commerce laws to miss important information regarding contracting electronically. Because of this, it would be wise to consult an attorney who frequently deals with e-commerce law.
An electronic commerce law attorney will understand all of the rules regarding UETA and ESIGN along with any other contractual terms that may not be so clear to the average person. A single party or a business will have a much easier time with any electronic commerce that they are involved in, and a good attorney can make negotiating a lot easier for everyone involved. Patents are a different thing. Here, the concepts of obviousness and novelty play important roles. When you think that you could have invented that certain thing, why not just say that you DID invent that certain thing! Click on the link to read a highly interesting article about this subject.