As our world becomes more digital, more and more businesses are looking toward online sales and marketing. The way we buy goods and shop has changed dramatically during the last few decades. Customers seek more convenient, faster and cost-efficient forms of transaction. The COVID-19 crisis has put this into focus and has shown that having an online presence is now a requirement for businesses looking to sell goods and services to customers. However, companies looking to provide e-commerce services in Germany must be aware of the legal requirements. Working with e-commerce lawyers in Germany is the best way to protect your company.
In this article, we will provide a brief outline of our services for the e-commerce industry in Germany, but we would urge those seeking personalised assistance to contact our law firm directly. Our lawyers can provide full-service assistance and legal guidance for all of your interactions with German law as a business client. Contact us today by using our contact form or by email/phone. Our e-commerce lawyers in Germany look forward to working with you.
e-Commerce: The Way Forward
Today the majority of global trade and commerce is taking place online. Amazon, eBay, and other online stores now dominate the landscape, and the increase in popularity of social media has shown the power of online advertising. Having an online presence is now a vital step toward business success. In Germany, vast numbers of people directly purchase goods and services online. Online stores generally provide greater flexibility and more personalised products. Many customers now seek these personalised products and prefer to buy them over generic goods in more traditional stores. Online is the way forward for any company looking to break into the lucrative German market. However, new opportunities also present unique legal risks and challenges.
German law is known for being complex, and in e-Commerce, there are many factors businesses have to take into account. Legal statutes and considerations which operate in this legal area include:
- The Telemedia Act: This law outlines the requirements that your company must display on its website. Such conditions include company name, address, email address, VAT identification number etc.
- The Federal Data Protection Act: As an online operator, your company will likely come into contact with private consumer data. This Act outlines how your company should act in this matter to ensure compliance with the GDPR.
- German Civil Code: The German Civil Code (BGB) outlines the regulations relating to general terms and conditions for companies.
As well as this, companies established in Germany must also be aware of laws relating to consumer protection and contractual requirements, whether the company is dealing directly with customers or with other businesses. Our lawyers can provide you with the clarity and guidance that you need.
Business Criminal Law: Cybercrime and Fraud Legal Advice
Cybercriminal activity is one of the greatest threats to companies in the e-commerce industry. Fraudulent activity, such as card testing fraud, refund fraud and interception fraud, can lead to significant difficulties for e-commerce companies. At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our lawyers regularly assist our business clients with preventing fraud from taking place.
As experienced professionals, our team of business criminal law attorneys can provide leading guidance regarding policies to detect and thus, prevent fraudulent activity.
Cybercriminals have targeted the e-commerce industry in recent years, as a means of carrying our their activities. Should your company develop a reputation as a location for cybercrime, it can lead to a loss of customers and investors. Our lawyers will advise you regarding your legal options with data protection and what actions can be taken against fraudsters.
Furthermore, should your company face allegations of business criminal law activity, our defence lawyers are ready to oversee your case and provide you with a clear insight into your options under German criminal law.
Commercial Law: Comprehensive Legal Services
For expert advice and assistance with German commercial law, look no further than Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte. Our commercial law team advises companies of all sizes regarding distribution agreements, product liability, commercial agency agreements, warehouse agreements and more. Our team provides guidance regarding developing and maintaining suitable distribution channels for your company, that considers the unique characteristics of your enterprise.
We provide leading support to our clients in disputes with distribution partners. Additional to drafting distribution contracts, our lawyers also draft supply chain management contracts and customer service contracts in the area of after-sales management.
For e-commerce companies, we advise on matters of online marketing, copyright law, digital ordering processes and electronic payment systems. The team at Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte implements our full-service model to provide your company with comprehensive legal support.
Contract Law: Analysis, Drafting and Negotiating
Engaging in business in Germany involves coming into contact with contracts of all forms. At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our contract law team is ready to negotiate, draft and analyse contracts for your business. Our lawyers will draft your company’s terms of service agreements, ensuring that they cover specific issues associated with e-commerce, are tailored to your company’s needs and cover essential provisions, such as
- Acceptable uses of the site,
- Disclaimers/liability limitations,
- Intellectual property ownership,
- Limited warranties,
- Prohibited uses of the site
- Warranties of use.
Furthermore, our lawyers draft and analyse privacy policies, user agreements and return policies.
When drafting essential agreements between your company and its suppliers, such as vendor agreements, our lawyers will ensure that you are protected. Our team draft secure contracts with clearly outlined provisions regarding:
- Agreed prices or method of pricing
- Confidentiality clauses
- Indemnity clauses
- Ownership clause
- Terms of delivery
- Term of payment
- Termination clause
By engaging with our services, your e-commerce business can receive ongoing expert support with all its B2C and B2B contracts. As the law develops and changes occur, our team will be ready to advise you regarding steps that need to be taken to stay ahead of your competitors.
Corporate Law Services
At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our dedicated corporate law team provides full-service legal support for e-commerce companies of all sizes in Germany. We provide legal representation for particular cases and ongoing support for our corporate clients.
We guide our clients through the process of company formation, utilising our years of experience of assisting companies to establish themselves in Germany. Our corporate lawyers will advise you regarding suitable corporate models, such as GmbHs, UG and AG models, and other models including KG and GmbH and Co. KGs. We will assess your company’s ambitions, characteristics and structures to determine how best to benefit from what the German market has to offer.
Our lawyers are also experienced at bringing companies from abroad into the German market. We have supported numerous entrepreneurs to gain the German business immigration visa, companies with general relocation services and corporate groups to expand to Germany, whether by opening a subsidiary, branch office or representative offices in Germany.
Additionally, our team’s ongoing support in matters, such as shareholder disputes, CEO rights and responsibilities, corporate tax and mergers and acquisitions means that we are ready to be your legal partner in Germany.
Employment Law Services
Our employment law team consists of two certified specialists in the field, Dr. Thomas Bichat and Mr. Jens Schmidt. They are available to provide your e-commerce enterprise with comprehensive legal guidance in matters of German employment and labour law. Our team will assist your business with navigating employment contracts – and ensuring that they are legally compliant – advising CEOS and managing directors regarding their rights, drafting policies relating to discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying, guiding your company in matters of termination and avoiding unfair dismissal claims, and more.
Not engaging with expert legal counsel can lead your company open to costly legal disputes and lead to reputational damage.
Intellectual Property: Copyright, Trademarks and Patents
Intellectual property has an enormous role to play in the success of an e-commerce business. Protecting the copyrights, trademarks, patents and other IPs of your business is essential to maintaining a recognisable identity with your customers. Allowing your IP to be used and abused without protecting it can lead to significant financial losses and it means that your competitors can unfairly gain advantages based on your creativity. Our lawyers will outline the legal means by which your company can safeguard its IP, and represent you in legal cases.
E-commerce enterprises can also unknowingly breach IP law when designing their website. Companies need to ensure that they have the legal right to use the product descriptions, images, videos, logos, music and other elements that they use on their website. It is essential to determine that your company has express permission to use such aspects, or that they are in the public domain.
IP assets, such as logos and symbols, are often of greater value to e-commerce companies than other assets. Our legal team are ready to assist your business with IP audits and can assess the value of your intangible assets in preparation for M&A transactions.
Litigation, Arbitration and Dispute Resolution
At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our team of litigators is available to represent your company in legal battles. Our team will advise your company regarding possible means of resolving disputes, whether by negotiation, arbitration, mediation or litigation. Should your enterprise seek to resolve matters out of court, our lawyers will seek alternative means of resolving the dispute that will be time-saving and less costly than litigation.
Should a case be unavoidable, our team consists of seasoned litigators who will design creative legal strategies tailored to your case. Our lawyers are ready to answer all your questions relating to litigation and dispute resolution in Germany.
Whistleblowing and Compliance
In recent years, the importance of companies providing reliable, secure and confidential internal grievance mechanisms has grown enormously. Even leading companies have suffered enormous reputational damage due to not implementing such designs. With the growth of social media and the 24hr news cycle, it is easier than ever for companies to be exposed to damaging allegations. Whistleblowing often causes reputational damage; however, it can be necessary to uncover legal violations such as corruption or poor standards.
At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our team of lawyers will advise your company regarding how to establish effective procedures. Having suitable systems in place reduces the likelihood of those employees who uncover unprofessional behaviours from going public with that information. If employees are made aware that they can make their reports within the company, the matter can be resolved internally without the need for media reports.
The lawyers at Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte advise both companies and whistleblowers regarding their options under German law.