Company Websites and the Internet: Choose Your Words with Care
february 26, 2015
One of the great advantages of the internet is that it enables a business to reach a vast audience, crossing state and, indeed, international borders. With the internet, a business can, in a sense, be everywhere all at once. Businesses, including those in the trucking industry, therefore see the internet in general and their websites in particular as very useful tools to promote their company, gain notoriety and expand their business. That these tools are valuable is undeniable, but trucking companies need to be mindful of the potential pitfalls these tools can create.
Trademark and copyright infringement, domain name issues, defamation and linking/framing issues are some frequent areas of website dispute and should be considered by any website developer. In addition, companies in the trucking industry should be aware that what they say electronically can be used against them in other ways in personal injury and property damage cases, such as establishing personal jurisdiction and waiving objections to venue.
It is imperative that you continue to monitor your representations on your website, given the potential impact they may have relative to personal jurisdiction or venue issues. Are you currently doing business in all the states that you suggest through your website? Have you properly identified any and all terminals that you may have? Have you properly identified the nature of your equipment? Are you making any statements that ultimately could be used at trial against you? Incorrect representations could result in suit being filed in a much more favorable forum for the plaintiff, resulting in a great deal of time and money expended to challenge personal jurisdiction and/or venue. Furthermore, some representations could certainly give rise to the theme that plaintiff's counsel may attempt to utilize during the trial of the case, which will not be to your advantage. In the end, you need to continuously monitor the information displayed through your website so that it is not misleading or inaccurate.