Our recent posts on successful legal challenges to the arbitration clauses in browsewrap and clickwrap agreements have a theme in common—even the most thorough and well-worded agreement can be rendered unenforceable by website design. With this in mind, we have put together a list of otherwise innocuous web design components that can be the bane of both browsewrap and clickwrap alike. Note, failure to pay attention to any one of these will not necessarily render your agreement weightless—many of these are culprits only when grouped together—but they are also each eminently addressable, so why not avoid potential pitfalls in the first place?
We previously covered the developing legal issues with browsewrap agreements and the importance of reviewing and updating any such agreement to ensure users are bound to the terms. In a browsewrap agreement, the user’s assent to the agreement’s terms is inferred from the user’s use of the website. Often, the terms of a browsewrap agreement are accessible from a hyperlink placed on one or more webpages of the company’s website. As we mentioned in our initial post, browsewrap agreements have a close, usually more dependable relative—the “clickwrap” agreement. A clickwrap agreement requires the user to click a button to affirm assent to the agreement’s terms. As a result of this direct, affirmative action, many lawyers view clickwrap as a safer alternative than its browsewrap cousin.
Anyone who has purchased a product online or downloaded software for a computer, tablet or mobile device has likely encountered “browsewrap” and “clickwrap” agreements. Such agreements are the bread and butter of companies that sell or license products or provide services via websites or web applications. Clickwrap agreements require a user to affirmatively click a button to affirm his or her assent to the agreement’s terms, whereas with a browsewrap agreement, the user’s assent to the agreement’s terms is inferred from the user’s use of the website. (Often, the terms of a browsewrap agreement are accessible from a hyperlink placed on one or more webpages of the company’s website.)