The Quick, Non-Scary DL on Protecting Yourself (and Your IP)

by Erin Kelly September 3, 2019

Join me and Sarah Kornblet Waldbuesser, where she breaks down the important elements to have in place so YOU and your IP (intellectual property) can sleep safe, sound and peaceful at night. I know, I know. Not the most fun topic, but pretty darn important to avoid lawsuits and have some oomph behind you in case someone steals your content!

You can learn more about Sarah and check out her templates here.

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The episode, if you’d prefer to read.

ERIN KELLY ASKS:

I’m about to bring up the topic then probably ranks right next to going to the dentist or paying your taxes. It’s certainly something that I avoided a lot during my online business journey and I can say now on the other side of actually taking care of these things, getting a trademark, getting terms and conditions on and all that great stuff were terrible stuff on the other side of getting that handled and in place, I feel so much more protected and secure with MemberVault and with our business and knowing that we’re legally protected. And you know, with our terms and conditions and all of that kind of thing it’s not fun.

It’s certainly something that, you know, I had to push past resistance on and Mike had to, you know, my co founder, he had to push past resistance on, there’s the a year of googling a contract and like copy and pasting it and using that and feeling like you’re quote unquote protected this.

Definitely knowing in the back of your head that you’re really probably not a say. I really wanted to have Sarah come on, Sarah, you know, we have hired Sarah. Did you, all of our member of all legal and you know, okay, I personally think you’re one of the best legal brains that I see in the online space in terms of making things feel a little bit less scary. And so definitely I, you might go to legal brain, which is why you are in the member of all its brain trust under illegal. And I think that you ha you do a really great job of breaking things down in a really easy to understand non-scary way. So in under 10 minutes, cause I know this is a really big topic, but in under 10 minutes, I would love to get the quick and dirty nutshell about protecting your intellectual property.

So that’s, you know, the thing, and I maybe I’m dropping a big word here and you’re going to correct me, your intellectual property in terms of, you know, anything that you’re putting in in the online space, your courses, your memberships, your blog posts, like all of that good stuff. You know, how to protect that. The important things to have in place and the steps to actually do that. So, you know, instead of, instead of being like, okay, I should do this, but I don’t really know how to get started.

If you can give a little bit of guidance so people can easily make that like next step.

And then how to protect yourself as a coach or service provider where you are doing one-to-one practices or you’re selling a course or a membership, just the quick and dirty like important things to have in place, the bare minimum and how to move forward on those things in a way that isn’t going to be super scary or hopefully like crazy, crazy expensive.

SARAH KORNBLET ANSWERS:

Hi Erin. Thank you so much for having me on. I’m super excited to share some information today. As Erin said, I am an attorney and owner of destination legal. That is my online home and where I do my best to help online business owners like you protect your passion.

I do this through a variety of different things, including the template hub, which is where I have tons of different contracts for coaches, health coaches, photographers, web freelancers independent contractors, website bloggers, pretty much anything you could think of to protect your online business, including website terms, terms of purchase, membership type turns to purchase, things like that.

And then I also do trademark. So filing trademarks to help business owners protect and own their brand is one of my favorite things to do. It’s such an exciting process to be a part of when I can present a registration certificate to someone that they own their business name or course name or mastermind name or thing like that.

So that is how I spend my days. And so today I’m gonna quickly just give you the lowdown on some ways that you can protect your business so that you don’t end up spending money either by losing sales or ending up in a lawsuit or in some sort of infringement case.

So one thing I want to talk about is how you can protect your intellectual property. So your intellectual properties, anything that you create, you can kind of think of. Intellect is your head and anything that comes out of it is your property.

And there’s two main types that I’m going to talk about. One is copyright and one is trademark. So Copyright Law protects any content that you are putting out into the world. So that could be a blog post, a Facebook post, an Ebook, a, it could be an online course, it could be a video, a piece of jewelry, art, basically any type of content that you’re putting out into the world.

Copyright law says that you own it, it’s yours. Nobody else can do anything with it. They can’t take it, they can’t sell it, they can’t steal it. Now, the main thing to know about copyright law is that you actually can’t sue for infringement for somebody stealing your copyright unless you’ve registered it with the u s government. And so that is a process that isn’t too difficult. You don’t necessarily need an attorney. It’s an application process where you submit the work that you want to protect and they give you a registration number and then if someone does steal it, you can file a claim of copyright infringement and you will automatically be entitled to some money for that. And so that’s, that’s something great to have if you have a piece of content that you really want to protect. So this would be an Ebook, a course, an image, something like that.

If you don’t through this process and someone does steal your content, of course there’s still actions to take. You could send a cease and desist letter, you can contact the web host and try to get them to take it down. If this was on social media, you can go through ’em take down procedures. Most of the platforms have it. So the other type of intellectual property you really want to protect is trademarks. And so trademarks are our names, logos, slogans that belong to your brand. It’s how people recognize you. So for example, one of my slogans is protect your passion. And that’s something that I’m in the process of trademarking. And so similar to MemberVault, I believe they have done this as well.

And I’ve worked with tons of coaches and online business owners to get their trademarks. And it’s something amazing because it really does help you to elevate your brand.

So if you look at any of the big names in the online world, you know Marie Forleo, Amy Porterfield, they all have six or seven trademarks. Amazon has over 900 so if you’re growing a business, at one point you’re gonna want to think about trademarking because it’s the only way he could really be secure that you own the name or the brand that you’re using. And if you don’t have a trademark, somebody else could potentially file it and come and make you stop using the name that you could’ve been using for months and months. And I’ve had situations where people have had to change their branding because they didn’t have the trademark. I’ve also had situations where I helped a client get a trademark and then someone else in the industry started using it and we were able to shut that down really quickly. So trademark registration really comes with a great amount of power, confidence, and it really elevates your brand.

And so to file a trademark, it’s a registration process through the u s patent and trademark office. While an attorney is not required, I would say 60 to 70% of people that try on their own fail. And that’s because they’re just the nuances to know around filing the application and dealing with USPS PTO. And so if you’re thinking about whether or not you’re ready for a trademark, definitely reach out to me. I love to sort of just chat with people. I have a brand audit that’s free, 20 minute chat where we just talk about how to protect your brand and if, if and when you may be ready for a trademark. So beyond just intellectual property. There’s a couple of really other important things to touch on to protect yourself, whether you’re working in a one on one capacity and then how that may be different if you start selling courses, memberships or digital products.

The number one most important thing when you’re doing one-on-one services, whether you’re a VA or a coach or a type of a social media manager, anything is that you have a one on one contract in place. One-On-One contracts are the most important thing to have in your business in the number one thing that is going to keep you out of court and protect your sales. So not only do they outline the terms of the service and the program that you are providing, but also how you’re getting paid when you’re getting paid. What’s your refund policy would if someone asked for a refund. There is a section there on disclaimers which are super important for coaches and other service providers that you aren’t providing any guarantees. There’s intellectual property protection, a confidentiality disclaimer, warranties, jurisdiction, dispute resolution, a bunch of really important things to make sure that you’re protecting your business and again, your money.

So something that changes when you move from one on one to a group or a digital product or a course is that it’s not likely that everyone’s going to come and sign your contract, but you absolutely still want them to agree to terms of purchase. So this is a document just like a contract. It has just as much legal standing that you agree to at the point of purchase, whether you’re inserting an electronic signature or checking a box that whoever’s purchasing your program agrees to your terms of purchase. And this includes similar things. What are the terms of the course or the membership? What are the refund policies and the payment policies? Again, those very important disclaimers that whatever course you’re providing, there’s no guarantee that somebody is going to get x, y, z. And so you don’t want someone to be upset when they go through your course.

Again, no results who come back and try to sue you. And so those are where those disclaimers come in. Again, there are a bunch of other legal called clauses in there that if a dispute comes up, how do you solve that? And you know, these legal contracts are in place really to provide authentic to your business. So with legal, it’s not when it’s not if you’re gonna need it, it’s when, because if you’re in business for any amount of time, you are definitely going to need these. Someone is going to ask you a question and if you don’t have a contract to refer to, you’re really in hot water. So if you’re running a program that’s, let’s say it’s six months and someone comes after two months and they want all of their money back. If you have no contract or terms of place, then you’re kind of out of luck.

If you don’t refund their money, there’s a chance they’re going to bring a claim against you or they’re going to go try to do a charge back and it can just get really messy. So contracts provide context, they provide boundaries and they are really there to protect you. And then the final thing you want to think about in terms of legal protection is your website. So once you have a website and you’re putting out information, again, you’re opening yourself up to some liability. So the most important things there are privacy policies. Obviously most of us know now that those are required in the u s and the u and around the world. And then also terms of service and disclaimers. And so in terms of service or about, you know, what are visitors do in your website, what are they doing with the information, what can they do with the information?

And again, those disclaimers, if you’re blogging and putting out, you know, education or recipes or exercises or you know, Free Info on how to do Facebook ads. Again, you could get yourself in some deep water if you don’t have those disclaimers that the information you’re putting out there is just education. And like I say, when I’m doing these types of interviews as well, like this is just information on if this is legal advice, it’s just education. So I hope that gives ’em some good information to you guys.

Please feel free to visit me at destinationlegal.com I have a legal blueprint right on my home page that you can sign up for, and it kind of guides you through what you needed when, depending on where you are in your business. So you might find that super helpful and you can find me on Facebook and Instagram at destination legal as well. And it’s been great. Thanks Erin.