Every company and business owner out there surely know that they cannot just sell and market their goods and services however they want to. There are rules and regulations to be followed and to be abided by to prevent unwanted complications. Laws are created so that every business and consumer is respected and their rights are protected.
Advertising is a necessity to promote your products and services and increase the number of clients and/or customers that’ll avail them. However, some get out of their way to intentionally or unintentionally fool people to encourage them into buying their products and gaining more profit. They might do it in such an unnoticeable way, but acts such as these will eventually end up arising a couple of legal issues.
There are a ton of illegal methods of advertising that have been used in the past and still are being used by some companies. However, what they do not realize is that they’re digging a hole for themselves, even if they’re doing so unintentionally. Here are some legal issues every company and business owner out there should always remember and watch out for, as well as how you can resolve them.
1. False Advertising
As much as you want customers and clients to purchase or avail of your products and/or services, false advertising just isn’t the way to go. Most of the time, false advertising may be used in the form of highlighting the benefits of availing or purchasing the product and/or service, even those benefits that are non-existent. Every company and business owner should be well aware that you cannot advertise that what you’re offering will be able to benefit your consumer in such a way you claim it will. You’re cheating your consumers into availing your product and/or service just for monetary gain.
False advertising is unethical as much as it is illegal. You are basically advertising a product or service in a form of a lie. This is most especially concerning when the product being falsely advertised is that relating to or involving a person’s health. One might be selling medicine that claims to have ingredients that are proven to cure a specific illness, but in truth, it really doesn’t. Endangering the lives of people through false advertising is a serious matter and can lead to years of imprisonment.
You should always stick to what your products and services can truly provide and avoid claiming something that you know isn’t really true, or if so, haven’t been proven yet. It is highly advised that you conduct proper and legal research and experiments, as well as gather real evidence that supports your claim so that consumers will have a scientific and truthful basis to hold on to.
2. Gray Areas
Showing your potential customers and clients with an advertisement that contains gray areas is just as bad as false advertising. Consider it as false advertising’s first cousin. Just like the previous one, advertisements with gray areas sends an unclear message to its viewers. It leaves an undefined end to some parts of the product or service being offered, leaving consumers guessing what kind of outcome, or in this case products or services, they will be paying for and receiving. Gray areas can mislead consumers or leave them second-guessing and even assuming the answer to their questions.
Advertisements with gray areas often have incomplete information about the product or service. Statements and claims may also be constructed in such a way that is generalized and does not ensure the consumers the specifics of what they’ll be receiving. This kind of advertisement, just like false advertising, gives consumers and clients false hope and expectations that will inevitably eventually be let down.
Your advertisements should always provide people with a complete and concise statement of what the consumers will be getting as well as the inclusions of what they paid for. Put yourself in the shoes of those who will see it and ask yourself what probable questions they might ask so you can include the answers to these in your advertisement.
Some companies and business owners themselves release advertisements with gray areas unknowingly, without meaning to do so. However, that does not excuse them from the law. Just like with false advertisements, ignorance does not justify this. Thus, it is encouraged to check your advertisements for gray areas before releasing it.
3. Intellectual Property Issues
Two things that every company and business owner should always keep in mind and keep an eye out for are trademarks and copyrights. If you’re someone who’s just started recently, you should immediately register your trademark for this gives you the exclusive right to use a specific word or words, name, design, or logo in connection with the specific goods or services you provide. This is to protect your brand and logo and avoid other people using them for their benefit. However, before you register yours, you should first check if you are infringing on somebody else’s trademark. You don’t want to be dealing with unnecessary problems just because you didn’t know.
Copyright, on the other hand, refers to the authorship of original works, which includes literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, architectural, and a wide range of other works. An example of copyright infringement may be as simple as using artwork as a ‘decor’ for your advertisement. Due to budgetary concerns, some business owners end up creating their own advertisements to save money. Instead of hiring a professional and properly investing money in a proper advertisement, they resort to taking matters into their own hands.
Without knowing, they have used a copyrighted artwork without the permission of the owner and not even giving credit to the one who created it. This act is a blatant form of copyright infringement. One should always assume that everything is copyrighted and seek permission and both parties should approve upon an agreement first before utilizing the intellectual property.
4. Environmental Claims
Today, people are now becoming more aware of our environmental situation, its needs, and what problems are arising due to irresponsible human actions. People are becoming more conscious of the products they buy, what contents it has, how it was manufactured, and what kind of packaging it has. These are all good and great. However, some companies use this to their advantage.
These companies and business owners make false or just worthless environmental claims just to encourage consumers to turn to them for more environmental-friendly products. They use these as their leverage and an edge over other competitors, without really paying mind if it really is environmentally friendly.
An example of this would be claiming that their plastic packaging is recyclable, therefore environmentally friendly. While it really is recyclable, we all know that only a small percentage of plastics are recycled. A huge amount of plastics are not and just end up mixed up with other garbage in a landfill. Therefore making this claim true, but not that valuable or ultimately worthless. Resolving this problem is pretty simple really. Just like with false advertising, you should just stay true to what your product can really offer and don’t make claims that aren’t true.
Search Engine Optimization
Aside from the solutions provided for each legal issue discussed, another great option you can try is hiring an SEO professional to aid you in online marketing. Many big and successful companies invest in SEO to increase their website traffic and reach a wider range of audiences. If you’re not incorporating SEO in your marketing strategy, you better start doing so to efficiently compete with your competitors. It is one of the most helpful marketing strategies because it can help you up your ranking in search engines which, increasing traffic to your website, and eventually gain much more potential customers and clients.
In Georgia, one of the most widely known company, the Coca-Cola Company is based in Atlanta. With the help of SEO, Coca-cola was able to achieve is the number one in ranking in YouTube’s Suggested Video, helping it celebrate and reintroduce the mini can to millions of viewers. An Atlanta SEO company can help other companies based in Atlanta to step up their game. If your business is based in another city or a completely different country, you can try searching for those nearest you.
There are many ways to advertise your products and/or services online in a completely legal way. However, if you’re not careful enough, you might just find yourself having issues such as these coming your way. There are many more other legal problems one can find themselves tangled up in and these are just some of them. Don’t even try attempting any of these for one wrong move and you might just end up being dragged and locked up, or losing more instead of earning. It is better to make an honest and legal living, especially if your business is fairly new and you’ve just started to earn some income. Unlike big companies, you might not have the capability of getting away with risking yourself and your business just to make a few extra couple of bucks. Better safe than sorry.