In This Article
Are you an entrepreneur looking to protect your business’s intellectual property? Join Yasmine Salem Hamdan and Tiffany Grant on this episode as they discuss legal landmines that entrepreneurs need to avoid.
They emphasize the importance of trademarks, copyrights, and getting consent for content use in your paid products. Plus, Yasmine provides important tips on conducting a trademark clearance search so you don’t accidentally step on someone else’s toes. Tune in now for essential advice on protecting your intellectual property!
About Our Guest
Yasmine Salem Hamdan is an inspiring business lawyer, brand consultant & entrepreneur who emphasizes the importance of legal protection for entrepreneurs. She is the founder of Coaches & Company, a digital destination that provides entrepreneurs with ready-to-use legal contract templates and other premium business tools.
Drawing upon her extensive experience in representing, supporting, and consulting business owners, Yasmine founded Coaches & Company to help protect hard-working entrepreneurs from getting into sticky legal situations. Through her work, she motivates entrepreneurs to put their ideas and gifts out into the world confidently and securely.
Connect with Yasmine
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Facebook: Coaches and Company
Connect with Tiffany
Facebook: Money Talk With Tiff
LinkedIn: Tiffany Grant
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Tiffany Grant: Hey everyone. I’m excited because I have Yasmin Salem Hamden on the line. Now Yasmin’s here to talk to us about something that we’ve never talked on the podcast about before.
And that is the legal landmines when it comes. to being a business owner and creator. So, Hey, Yasmin, how are you today? Hey,
Yasmine Salem Hamdan: Tiffany. I’m great. Thanks for having
Tiffany Grant: me on the show. Thank you for coming. I’m excited about this because I’m sure there are a ton of things that we can get wrong legally when it comes to our business.
So let’s just hop right in. What is one legal landmine that we may encounter as a
Yasmine Salem Hamdan: business owner? Okay. We’re getting right into it. I like your style. Of course. See? Alright. Let’s dive in. Head first. Head first. Yes. Alright. So, let’s talk about this first Legal Landmine. So, I would say before we get into Legal Landmine, I would love for all of your listeners, anyone who’s listening to this, to experience a shift in perspective as an entrepreneur, as a business owner, as a creator.
Anybody that is creating content in the world today, publishing it online or in print, whatever your medium might be, you are not just creating content. You are not just writing words. You are not just creating visuals. You are creating assets. And I would say that’s one of the biggest mistakes and one of the biggest landmines.
And it’s not a one and done situation. This is something that you’re going to, um, Want to keep in mind throughout your entrepreneurial journey is your intellectual property and protecting the intellectual property. Intellectual property comes in many different forms. Most common and what most entrepreneurs need to be familiar with are trademarks and copyrights.
I would say. 99 percent if not 100 percent of business owners and businesses possess intellectual property assets, specifically trademarks and copyrights. There are also patents, not every business is going to have patents, um, with as an intellectual property asset, but trademarks and copyrights. Um, as far as the difference between the two.
They are. I think of it as a present. So think of like a box that’s wrapped and that’s your business. That’s what you’re presenting to your buyer. What’s on the outside, the label or the tags or the packaging. That’s your trademark. That’s your name, your company name, your brand name, your podcast name, your program or course name.
That’s what the consumer sees first. And that’s an asset because you’re going to continue to build brand awareness and recognition in that. And the value of that asset will go up over time. Okay. Um, and then what’s inside the box is the content. Those are the copyright assets. So those are those original works of art and authorship, written works, visual works, audio works, anything that is created by you or by somebody else.
And they transfer ownership to your business. Um, that’s a copyright asset. So one of the biggest legal landmines I see and one of the biggest mistakes I see entrepreneurs making is failing to recognize what intellectual property assets they already have in their business. Protecting those intellectual property assets and then, uh, enforcing those rights when the time comes, if somebody is infringing on your rights, and then of course, you’re going to continue to create assets over time.
So keeping that in mind as you create, I’m creating an asset. Let me protect this asset. Let me be intentional. Let me be strategic. Um, and let me, uh, continue to build the value of my business over time. Okay, so
Tiffany Grant: you just unloaded and I wanna
Yasmine Salem Hamdan: stay here for a minute, . I
Tiffany Grant: wanna stay here for a minute because you know, I’m always talking about how much content I have as a creator.
Mm-hmm. Like tons. Mm-hmm. I mean, we’re at 200 a gold mine
Yasmine Salem Hamdan: girl. That’s a gold mine.
Tiffany Grant: 200 some episodes, probably about a hundred blog posts, all these social media posts and all that stuff. So if there’s someone listening that’s like me, so, you know, they create content online, whether it’s a blog, a blog, a podcast, what have you, how do they protect that?
Like once they release it, is that protected or what, what does protection mean
Yasmine Salem Hamdan: for those? That’s an excellent question. So the content, yeah, the content that you’re talking about. So these are copyright assets. Remember, that’s what’s inside of that package. So your podcast episodes, even the show notes is considered your, uh, your copyright asset, a blog post.
Maybe it is related to the podcast. Maybe it’s not, but that’s in a written format. Emails that you send to your email list that are, um, you know, whether they’re marketing based or promotional in nature or not, either way, it’s an original work that you created or somebody on your team created and you published it.
And so when we have copyright assets, these original works of art or authorship, as soon as we create them, we have ownership in them. So we don’t have to sell it. We don’t have to even post it online. We don’t have to, um, We don’t necessarily, uh, have to make money off of it. As soon as you create it, you have ownership of it.
And when you own the rights to a copyright asset, you have the exclusive right. Your, you have your power is huge as a copyright owner because you have to exclusive rights to publish it, to reproduce it, to license it to others, which is. Huge on its own. That is a whole other avenue that we’re probably not going to get very into during today’s conversation.
But that’s something to keep in mind. You can license this content to others. You can profit off of it. You can, uh, create derivative works based on it. So repurpose it. And what we see, uh, what we’re able to do there is perhaps we have a podcast episode and then I repurpose it into a blog post, and then I repurpose it into an email, and then I repurpose it to some social media content, et cetera.
I’m sure you’re very familiar with that process, so we wanna make sure that one, we are, if we’re hiring anyone to support and content creation, that we have a written agreement with them. And that every piece of content they’re creating within the scope of that agreement, they expressly transfer ownership of that content to you.
See, what happens is if you don’t do that, if I hire a contractor to create some visuals for me or audio for me or written works for me or whatever it might be, and there isn’t a written agreement in place that transfers ownership of it to my business or to me personally, then they maintain ownership of it.
And that means they have those rights to license it to others, to reproduce it, to sell it, to publish it, et cetera. So we want to avoid that. So one is, I would say for starters, make sure you actually own all of the content in your business. Um, and I would also say, make sure your business owns the content.
So you don’t really want to be personally on the hook or personally liable when it comes to anything in your business. If you have an LLC or a corporation, that entity should own all of those assets. Um, and like I said, having a written agreement in place with anybody that’s supporting you in content creation is key here.
Tiffany Grant: Hmm. Interesting. So I’m sitting here like, Ooh, I have a lot of work to do.
Yasmine Salem Hamdan: Um, Oh, we all do. We all do. You’re not alone.
Tiffany Grant: Um, but with that being said, because now my brain is just going a mile a minute, to be honest. And so, um, with that being said, let’s think about, um, cause I know I have a lot of content creators that listen to the podcast.
Okay. So we’re thinking contractors need to sign something, interviewees. If we’re quoting people, like how deep does this go? Like how many, how many people need to be signing things?
Yasmine Salem Hamdan: Yeah, that’s a great question. I love that question because it’s so important as a business owner to be able to identify it.
I want to say almost unconsciously, like it needs to just be on your radar and top of mind. Anytime I’m entering into a professional relationship with someone, we got to get those terms in writing, especially if they’re producing some sort of deliverable. Um, so I would say if you’re working with a contractor, if you’re hiring an agency, if you’re hiring even someone on Upwork, you know, if it’s a small project that you’re working on, if they’re producing some sort of output, like visuals, written content, audio content.
Um, graphic design, you know, even a photographer, if you hire a photographer for an event, you know, just because you hire them and pay them money to show up and take the photos and then deliver the photos to you if they don’t have it in the contract that upon completion of the project or upon you paying them and then delivering the photos, they’re transferring ownership of those photos to you.
They might be retaining ownership in those photos. So. Thank you. You know, that’s something to keep in mind anytime you’re hiring somebody. So I would say as a blanket statement, anytime you’re entering into a professional relationship with someone, whether it’s a client or a consultant, a contractor, a coach that you’re hiring for services, a client that you’re, that has hired you and you’re providing services to them, a marketing agency, a graphic designer, whoever it might be, if they’re contributing to your content or they’re providing some sort of service to you, or you’re providing a service to them, Have that relationship in writing.
And here’s why. Because if you don’t, then every interaction with them throughout the project is going to be a negotiation, um, because the terms are not defined because your policies are not in place. And so there’s definitely something to be said about. Being the one to present the contract as well. It gives you sort of that home court advantage, if you will.
Um, you know, you get to, uh, set the, set the stage for potential negotiation, and then maybe they won’t negotiate terms and all the terms you set forth are the terms that will apply. So there’s that to keep in mind. Um, you mentioned, you know, how far do we go? I would say, like I said, anytime you’re doing business with someone, have it in writing.
Absolutely. Both parties review it. Both parties sign it. Everybody’s on the same page, both literally and otherwise, um, when it comes to interviewing folks on a podcast or on your blog, you can certainly interview them without a contract. Uh, best practice in my opinion is to, if you’re going to be.
Publishing someone’s photo. If you’re going to be publishing somebody’s information, um, if you’re gonna be, you know, using their voice or likeness in some way, shape or form like you are when you’re interviewing folks, you can have an agreement in place with them that ensures that they’re agreeing to all of the ways that you’re going to be using.
Their likeness and their voice and their photo. Um, you know, it’s not required by law by any means to do so. But many efforts that you make in your business from a legal standpoint are not required by law. They’re because you want to be proactive and you want to do your diligence up front. You want to protect the assets that you’re creating.
You want to set the stage for later projects. So I would say best practice is to get all of those terms agreed to up front in the interview setting. Let’s say, for example, you have an interview where you interview different folks in your industry, and you have a contract with all of them that, you know, a guest agreement, a podcast guest agreement, if you will.
And they’re agreeing to you using their photo, you using their voice, you, you know, publishing their likeness. Um, on your podcast and in a written format. And in, uh, you know, maybe that means on your blog, but maybe one day you want to publish your, you know, snippets of your podcast in writing in a coffee table book, you know, it’s really great.
If you already have consent from all of those people to do so, as opposed to going back and having to request consent or I certainly would not recommend making an investment in, you know, for example, printing physical copies of something without having the consent of everybody involved. So it really just depends on what it is that you’re trying to do.
But I would say it’s best practice. It’s great to have that blanket of protection and then. The third thing that you mentioned, there was one more, oh, when you’re quoting folks, if you’re quoting somebody in a way that is, you know, you’re reporting news, that’s protected under the law, if you have in a course of yours or in like a book that you’re publishing, if you’re including an excerpt from an author’s book, or if you’re including an exercise that they have in their teachings, I would definitely reach out to them and get consent to use that content in your content, especially if your content is paid content.
So if you’re publishing a book or if you are, you know, creating a course and in the course you include an exercise from a leader in your industry, you really love this exercise. You know that the students in your course are going to love it and benefit from it. You can just reach out to them. And many times folks are really open to providing consent.
They’re happy that you ask. And if they say no, you’ll be grateful that you found that out before you. Unintentionally infringed on their intellectual property. Yes,
Tiffany Grant: yes, and I’ve actually had people reach out to me before, so now it makes more sense. Nice. Um, when they’re like, Oh, Tiffany, can we use your blog articles in our newsletter?
Or can we use it for XYZ? And… For me, I’m like, it’s out there. Just use it as long as you tell people where you got it from. But I completely get why now that they reached out. So we’ve only hit on one landmine. I can see now that we’re probably going to need a part two, maybe even a part three on this.
But let’s see if we can hit one more landmine
Yasmine Salem Hamdan: for this episode. Yeah. Okay. Well, you know, I’m going to keep with the intellectual property since we’re on this topic and I’m just going to shift gears a little bit and talk about trademarks, a big legal landmine that people encounter in entrepreneurship is trademark infringement and they’re the infringer.
And then many times it’s unintentional, but here’s where people mess up is you’re really excited. You’re starting this new business, you’re looking forward to all the great things that you’re going to do and sell and experience and. It’s just going to be awesome. You’re super pumped up. You’ve got this perfect name.
You found out that the Instagram handle is available and the Twitter handle is available. And you’re like, great. That must mean it’s available, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not, or at least it doesn’t mean that doesn’t mean that it’s available. What that means is. That Instagram account that Instagram handle that you looked up was available and that Twitter handle you looked up was available But what you need to do is a trademark clearance search.
So let’s say I come up with this name I want to use the name, you know XYZ consulting I’m gonna start my consulting business and I find XYZ consulting is available on Instagram It’s available on whatever social media platforms But where I need to first look is the USPTO database. That’s the US Patent and Trademark Office database.
That is the federal registrar for all registered trademarks. And the reason why I want to look there is because I want to make sure that I am not going to be stepping on anybody else’s. I want to make sure that I’m not going to be unintentionally infringing on somebody else that already has a very similar name in connection with a very similar, um, service or product.
And so you’ll want to do a search, go to uspto. gov, uh, you’ll click on tests. It’s trademark electronic search system. Tiffany, are you familiar with the USPTO database? Yep. Mm hmm. Yeah. So you’ll, so you got to test trademark electronic search system and then you can do a basic search and you’ll search for the name of your company or the name of your podcast or the name of your.
You know, course or whatever it is that you’re looking to name your business. And if there’s something that already exists and it’s being sold in connection with something similar to you, or even related to you, take that as a red flag and go a different direction, because here’s what can happen is you might start using that name, you invest in the use of it, you start building your brand, you build your website, your own social media, your, you know, investing time and money and resources, energy, all the things.
And then you get hit with the cease and desist because somebody already owns that trademark. And then you’ve gotta go through the forced rebranding. Uh, that’s if you don’t end up in a lawsuit, um, you’ve got to announce to your community and your audience that you’ve built that. Okay, well I know this is what my name was, but now my name is something else.
So a lot of folks get excited, which is really great. You know, I love, I love the excitement around a new business venture and entrepreneurship in general. We just have to move. Intentionally, and we have to do our due diligence, and we have to be mindful of intellectual property for sure.
Tiffany Grant: Yeah, so quick question before we wrap up, um, cause one thing that I’ve heard is if it includes your name, there may be different, um, I guess, I don’t know, something different about it?
Um, what is that about?
Yasmine Salem Hamdan: Yeah, yeah, so if you have a trademark, if your trademark is your name, and this is common for a lot of folks is, You know, it’s a personal brand or it’s based on my personal brand. So your name can be a trademark and you can register your name as a trademark. You can also be prevented from using your name as a trademark if somebody else already owns it in connection with or something similar to it in connection with a related product or service.
So, you know, you can register your name as a trademark. You can use your name as a trademark. You can create an intellectual property asset based on your name, which is really cool, actually, if you think about it. Um, but yeah, you can also be blocked from using your name in business if somebody else Has already registered something similar in connection with something related.
Gotcha. Okay. Does that answer your
Tiffany Grant: question? Yes. I just wanted to get that question out because I’ve heard different things about that. So I just wanted to, yeah, get, get your thoughts on that. So while We’re wrapping up because I’m like, we only got through intellectual property. There’s, there’s a ton more, um, so I may have to change the title of this one, but if people were interested in finding out more about you, Yasmin, or more information about all of these business landmines, um, where could they find you?
Yasmine Salem Hamdan: you can find me online. Uh, I have a business called coaches and company. Uh, you can go to coaches and company. com. We are a digital hub providing access to education and legal tools designed with entrepreneurship in mind, specifically modern entrepreneurship. So if you are selling services and or digital products online, We have got everything you need to protect yourself legally from a contract standpoint.
If you’re selling coaching, consulting, working with clients, selling courses, downloadables, whatever it is. We’ve got what you need over there. And we’ve got a blog that shares a lot of educational, um, resources and information. So if you’re interested in learning more about intellectual property contracts, protecting yourself, head over there.
I’m on Instagram and Twitter. Um, if you just search my name, my name is a bit long, so I’m sure Tiffany will have that in the show notes, but you can connect with us there. But in general, I think like the hub is. Coachesandcompany. com. And then from there, you’ll be able to find us on all the
Tiffany Grant: platforms.
Thank you. Thank you. And I am going to head on over there now. Um, and if you’re interested in heading over there, I’ll make sure I have all of that information in the show notes for you. So check that out and be sure to get your stuff protected. This is so important and I’m so glad that we did this episode.
So thank you so much, Yasmin, for coming on the show today. Thank you
Yasmine Salem Hamdan: so much, Tiffany, for having me. I appreciate it. Bye.
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If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re probably well-aware that protecting your business’s intellectual property is crucial. In this episode of Money Talk with Tiff, Yasmin Salem Hamdan, founder of Coaches and Company, joined host Tiffany Grant to discuss legal landmines entrepreneurs need to avoid. Here’s a breakdown of the key takeaways and advice shared by these experts.
Recognizing and Protecting Your Intellectual Properties
Yasmin emphasized that many business owners possess intellectual property assets, including trademarks and copyrights. However, they often fail to recognize and effectively protect these assets from potential infringements. She advised entrepreneurs to acquire the necessary legal rights for their intellectual properties, ensuring their protection and future success.
Hiring Contractors and Content Ownership
One of the critical issues the experts touched upon was the importance of drafting written agreements with contractors creating content for businesses. Yasmin noted that these agreements should explicitly transfer ownership of the created content to the business. Doing so helps prevent future misunderstandings or disputes regarding the rights to use and monetize the content.
Trademark Clearance Search: Avoid Infringing on Existing Trademarks
Yasmin and Tiffany also discussed the risk of unintentionally infringing on someone else’s trademarks. They advised conducting a trademark clearance search on the USPTO database before deciding on a business name. Checking existing trademarks reduces the chances of unknowingly using a name that is already registered or protected, ultimately avoiding legal issues.
Using Personal Names as Trademarks
When it comes to using personal names as trademarks, Yasmin clarified that while it’s possible to register your name, you could also be blocked from using it if it’s similar to a registered trademark selling related products or services. Entrepreneurs should be cautious when choosing a business name and consider potential legal ramifications.
Get the Right Legal Tools for Modern Entrepreneurship
Yasmin encouraged entrepreneurs to visit her business, Coaches and Company, which provides valuable education and legal tools geared toward modern entrepreneurship. By leveraging these resources, business owners can ensure they’re taking the right steps to protect their intellectual property and avoid legal pitfalls.
To learn more about protecting your intellectual property and navigating the legal landscape of entrepreneurship, don’t miss this informative episode of Money Talk With Tiff. Listen now and gain expert insights on how to protect your business and its valuable assets!