A confession: This is my favorite topic. It is SO COOL to me that what we create is an asset—it’s a piece of property that has real value—upon which we build a living, a business, a life.
That the right- and left- brain worlds of law and creativity intersect here jazzes me up.
There are a bunch of different ways that the legal vehicles for your work can grow your business. Here I offer one:
Keep More Money Strategy No. 2: Protect Trademarks & Copyrights!
A trademark is how you identify your business as the source of your goods or services in the marketplace.
A copyright is a set of legal rights in your original work.
Trademarks and copyrights are at the center of your business.
It is, according to the Federal Reserve (big financial guns here), MORE important to the value of a business than tangible assets (real estate, machinery, inventory, etc.)
Most germane to you (and me), it is exceedingly likely that trademarks and copyrights are the only thing your business owns if you’re a service provider, expert, thought leader, innovator or creator. They are what make your business go, in other words.
You lose a lot of money quickly when there’s a conflict.
I am even going to go so far as to say, There is no quicker way to lose money in your business.
You lose revenue. How much business would you loose if your audience couldn’t find you anymore? (A lot? All?) What about if another business was capturing those interested leads (or worse selling your work) because the leads thought they were coming to you?
You lose your investment. If you loose the right to use your business name, then the money you’ve invested to create your brand and your content (called sunk costs) is lost. On average, a $3000-$5000 loss. That doesn’t account for the investment you’ve made in marketing so that you’re known.
You pay. You pay legal fees (which add up to $5000+ easily and quickly) to resolve a conflict. You pay to have your website migrated to a new url—or you have it redesigned completely. Another $1000-$5000. And you pay to re-establish your reputation and market visibility under a different business name. (Who knows how much that really costs.)
Those are just the financial losses. I’ve watched the stress take a higher emotional and physical toll. We are attached to our work. We put a lot into it. Money (even when it’s tight), passion, years of our lives. Losing it, even fighting for it, is rough. And it’s time and wellness you can’t get back.
So, what can you do?
1. Research your trademark before you get the perfect logo and roll out a fancy-pants website.
The key benefit to registering? It creates much higher and more effective deterrence. Issues typically cost less (in both time and money) to resolve. And registering gets you 3 rather than 1 enforcement option. (See No. 4 below). You can learn all about the advantages, costs and process of registration in my Free Trademark Crash Course.
3. Monitor your trademarks and copyrights. The sooner you find conflicts, the easier they are to address and resolve.
4. Enforce your trademarks and copyrights.
The law takes away your rights if you fail to stand up for them. You don’t have to get all litigious on everyone, but you do need to be aware and take steps as necessary. You have 3 options for enforcing your rights:
- a cease & desist letter
- a take down notice
- a law suit (before the registration offices or a court)
© 2014 Counsel to Creativity