When you step into the world of business ownership, there’s another layer that often comes with it that you may not realize at first…
And that is your PERSONAL brand.
Now, some people opt to keep their business solely professional, but no matter how hard you try your unique personal brand will start to infuse throughout your business.
This is normal and natural and it makes sense, because honestly business is personal.
People buy from people, so if you attempt to keep your business page solely business without ever showing your face, there’s a good chance that you’ll miss out on some of that know, like, and trust which is so vital to growing a business and making sales.
This whole idea of personal brand often freaks people out, especially when it comes to protecting not only your business, but also your unique identity.
And trust me, I get it. As a business owner, I understand that you want to protect your personal image, reputation and overall value.
That’s why it’s actually one of my missions, as a practicing lawyer, to make sure you have the education and resources you need to do just that.
At The Boutique Lawyer I aim to arm you with the information and tools you need to feel empowered to protect your business AND yourself with ease!
2 Ways To Legally Protect Your Personal Brand
In the world of online business, unfortunately counterfeiters, copyright pirates, and infringers are more common than not.
It’s something I see ALL of the time – creators stealing other creators’ content and using it as their own, people stealing course ideas and selling them, the list goes on.
And as a business owner with a personal brand this can be so incredibly frustrating.
Because let’s face it: while the content itself is one thing, what they’re also stealing with it is your unique ideas and thoughts. Things that you usually can’t find on the internet. Things that are totally specific to YOU!
When people do this, not only are they making copyright infringements, but they’re also imposing on your intellectual property – both of which are ILLEGAL.
This is why knowing how to truly protect your business and your brand is so key!
As a practicing lawyer, I always advise creators to protect their brand in 2 main ways:
- Keep your brand and brand messages internally consistent throughout your marketing
When you have an established brand and consistent message, your audience will start to identify and recognize your company’s logo, fonts, typography, corporate colors, trademarks, themes, and even your tone of voice and use of language.
The more consistent you are with all of this, the harder it becomes for someone to steal what’s yours because it’s SO obvious whose it is.
- Identify potential infringers of your intellectual property
Secondly, this is more of an action on your part. As a business owner and brand builder, it’s your job to pay attention to what other creators are doing.
While it’s nearly impossible to follow every single person and pay attention to what they’re doing, you can pay close attention to those in similar industries to ensure they aren’t infringing on your ideas or work.
By paying close attention to those around you, you’ll stand more of a chance of easily identifying infringers and be able to take real action against them.
When or if you do catch someone in the act of stealing your stuff, the question then becomes… “What do I do?!”
How a DMCA Takedown Works
If someone makes copies your content or work, you can take action with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice.
A DMCA takedown is a well-established and accepted internet standard generally followed by website owners and internet service providers.
This takedown is a process for copyright holders to get infringing user-uploaded material taken down off of websites and requires the copyright owner agent to send a takedown notice to a service provider requesting the provider to remove material that is infringing their copyright(s).
The takedown notice includes several elements specified by copyright law and if most of these elements are not included, the service provider may refuse the takedown.
Even if a takedown notice meets all the legal requirements, the service provider still may refuse the takedown, opening itself up for potential secondary liability for assisting with copyright infringement.
Any content owner has the right to process a DMCA takedown against a website owner, an ISP, hosting company, etc. if the content owner’s property is found online without their permission.
How to Send a Cease and Desist
In addition to a DMCA takedown, you can also protect your intellectual property by sending a cease and desist, also known as a Demand Letter.
This is generally the first step you would take to try and stop the theft of any of your intellectual property and it’s essentially a notice sent to the infringing persons or business entities, stating that you are aware of their infringing activities, and if they stop immediately, they may be able to avoid litigation.
One of the key strategies when sending a cease and desist letter is the amount of detail that should be included.
It’s important to give just enough details relating to your intellectual property rights, the work in which such rights exist, and the alleged infringement so the infringing party knows you’re on to them.
But on the other hand, you don’t want to give away all of your strategies, so that they aren’t able to properly prepare their defense if they have no intention of complying.
Using a cease and desist letter may help both parties avoid unnecessary costs and delays associated with bringing an infringement lawsuit.
Cease and desist letters can be used for nearly every type of intellectual property infringement, including copyrights, trademarks, patents, disclosure of confidential information, etc.
If you ever do have to send a cease and desist, remember that the primary goal is to open the door for meaningful negotiations and it’s not unusual for people on the receiving end of this letter to respond negatively.
The goal is to make them aware of the infringement and courteously ask them to right their wrongs to avoid further action.
If they continue to respond negatively and refuse to comply, that’s when further legal action would be needed, but this is always the first step!
If you find yourself in a situation where you need to send a cease and desist, but don’t know how, we’ve made it easy for you!
Resources to Protect Your Brand From Copyright Infringement
While I wish that everyone would simply follow the law and not infringe on the hard work of other creators, the reality is that it DOES happen – way more than you might think.
Even with this being the truth, there are a few things you can put in place as soon as today to start protecting your brand from infringement and give yourself a legal leg up!
First things first, make sure that your website has a copyright notice and statement. This is something that every website needs, regardless of your brand and business, and will live in the footer of your site.
Here’s a formula that you can swipe:
COPYRIGHT NOTICE FORMULA: © [INSERT FIRST YEAR OF PUBLICATION] – [INSERT YEAR IT WAS LAST UPDATED] [INSERT LEGAL BUSINESS NAME].
SAMPLE COPYRIGHT NOTICE STATEMENT: This resource is protected by copyright laws and international treaties. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this resource, or any portion thereof, may result in severe civil and criminal penalties, and will be prosecuted to the maximum extent possible under the law.
Next, if you sell digital products, make sure you’re taking the extra necessary steps to make sure ALL of your products are protected by downloading my free Copyright Notice Template for Digital Products!
Lastly, you want to make sure that you have proper legal agreements set up for your business that have clearly defined clauses that protect your intellectual property and creative work.
If you aren’t sure where to start, here’s a list of my top recommendations for all business owners – especially those that are selling things online!For all other legal needs, you can head to my contract shop – and if you can’t find what your business needs, send me a DM here! We’re constantly creating new resources to serve you best.