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3 Legal Mistakes to Avoid When Starting an Online Business

If you are considering starting a business, lawyer Berkley Sweet Apple wants to help you avoid costly legal mistakes. She sat down with Jessica Abu to discuss how she helps clients through her practice and legal template shop.

Jessica Abo: Berkley, you are the founder of a legal template store and Berkley Sweetapple Law. Tell us about your company and your practice.

Berkley Sweet Apple:

I run a legal template store where I provide affordable, downloadable, fillable legal documents, such as contracts and website policies, to creative entrepreneurs. I also have a law firm where I work one on one with online entrepreneurs. I mainly deal with trademarks, contracts, copyright and website policies.

All very important things. Always wanted to be a lawyer?

When I was five, my father, who was a lawyer, told me that the only way I could get the pot-bellied pig I wanted as a pet was to become a lawyer and fight the city where I lived over local zoning laws. modify.

Did you get the pig?

I didn’t get the pig, but I knew I wanted to be a lawyer like him, so that one day I could grow up fighting for things like having pigs as pets. I went to law school after college, but never felt that the traditional path of a law firm was right for me. After graduating from law school, I created a lifestyle blog as a side hobby and decided to monetize the blog and turn it into a business. I took online courses and ended up meeting other creative entrepreneurs who needed legal advice about the online business/blog space. I really enjoyed working with entrepreneurs who had business online and started educating myself in that area of ​​the law while working full time as a trial attorney. Seven years after graduating from law school, I retired from litigation to continue my template shop and law firm full-time.

Who are some of your customers and how do you help them?

My clients are mainly coaches, online course creators, website designers, copywriters, graphic designers and other online business owners. My favorite area of ​​practice is trademarks, which means that business owners get the exclusive right to use their company name, slogan or logo in their industry. Because trademark law is federal, I have clients with online businesses in all 50 states.

You’ve been working on this for a while. What do you think is the most expensive legal mistake you’ve seen someone make?

The most common and expensive legal mistake I see entrepreneurs make is using a business name without first checking if it is available. If you’re starting a business, it’s important to make sure someone else hasn’t trademarked the name first so you don’t get a letter of termination from their attorney and be forced to rebrand. Changing a business name after you launch it, along with the branding, packaging, and web design associated with the business name, can be frustrating and expensive. It is also important to trademark as soon as possible so that no one does it for you. If you’ve used competitors’ names and trademarks first, it can get very expensive to enforce your rights.

And, of course, that can be a total business nightmare. What are some of the legal boxes entrepreneurs should check?

Before investing in any kind of branding or web design, or getting too attached to the name, make sure your business name is available. Hire a lawyer to conduct a comprehensive trademark search. Make sure it’s available and trademark it. Second, have website policies. If you have a website, such as a blog or an e-commerce store, you will need some legal documents on your site. First, you need to have terms of use, which is basically your contract with anyone who comes to your website or makes purchases on your website. A terms of use contains necessary disclaimers, your refund policy and intellectual property clauses. A privacy policy is required by law if you collect any form of consumer data. Finally, make sure you have contracts with your personal clients and any independent contractors you hire.

How do you make all this less overwhelming for your customers?

In my template shop I try to make it as easy as possible for you. I have created contract templates tailored to different types of service providers, which can be downloaded and completed within twenty minutes. For one-on-one work, I try to make the customer experience as easy and efficient as possible. For trademarks, for example, I work with a flat fee model so that customers never have to worry about costs increasing. I handle everything in the trademark process, from the application to Office Actions, so clients don’t have to worry about the legal issues and can focus on doing what they love.

Shreya has been with australiabusinessblog.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider australiabusinessblog.com, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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