Michigan Business Law in Brief: Terms of Use Agreements

Make Everyone Play by the Rules

Imagine playing a game of cards without specific rules. It would be impossible for any player to “win” as nobody truly understands how the game is played. It wouldn’t be a lot of fun and players would likely argue about who’s right and who’s wrong.

At Hickey, Cianciolo, Finn & Atkins, PC, we understand that, like card games, website businesses need a framework of rules that dictate how customers actually use your website. Terms of Use Agreements define those rules, make everyone play by them and can help avoid situations that could lead to lawsuits, extensive legal fees and general customer dissatisfaction.

How a Terms of Use Agreement Can Protect Your Business

Terms of Use Agreements are important to any business that sells products, distributes content, permits users to post messages or engages in any type of activity which could result in third party liability. A well-written Terms of Use Agreement can help protect your business by:

  • Addressing issues before they become lawsuits
  • Deciding how to settle disputes
  • Controlling intellectual property
  • Implementing user guidelines and rules
  • Limiting liability exposure
  • Maintaining control of websites
  • Setting policies on price, payment methods and returns / refunds

The bottom line is that you have a legal relationship with everyone who visits your website – even if they don’t buy anything or identify themselves. A well-written Terms of Use Agreement defines those relationships so that there are no misunderstandings.

The Dangers of Using Online “Legal” Forms

It’s safe to say that having no Terms of Use Agreement can be very damaging to a business. However, having a poorly-written agreement can be just as damaging and result in wasted legal fees and regulatory enforcement actions by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or a state Attorney General.

Sadly, many poorly-written agreements regarding the latter come from using online “legal” forms. You’ll notice we put the word “legal” in quotations as using generic forms rarely protects your legal interests. The truth of the matter is that no generic form can address all the nuances of your business.

In reality, a Terms of Use Agreement is only useful to the extent it can be enforced by law. An experienced Terms of Use lawyer who understands your business and your customer base can help to protect the business you’ve worked so hard to create and increase the probability that a court will ultimately enforce the agreement terms against anyone who visits your website or registers to use it.

The business law attorneys at Troy, Michigan-based Hickey, Cianciolo, Finn & Atkins, PC can tailor a terms of use agreement to your business and implement that website agreement in a way that maximizes its ability to protect you and your assets. For over 30 years, we have proudly represented clients in Troy, Oakland County, metropolitan Detroit and throughout Michigan. We welcome you to contact the Law Office of Hickey, Cianciolo, Finn & Atkins, PC by calling 248-247-3300 or by using our online form.

Categories: Business Law