Continuing with the themes of a startup and the surrounding falsehoods, a myth if you will, we again direct you to these amazing articles written by Rocket Lawyer.
Myth 4: It Doesn’t Matter Employee or Contractor
Once you start to need additional help outside of your co-founders, startups often think that the employee or contractor is always a choice. It’s actually not and your lawyer or CPA can help you figure out that potential land mine.
When you have anyone helping you, it’s similar to the co-founder situation—sign a contract or agreement that spells out who is doing what for whom. With contractors, you need to make sure that you receive the full rights and ownership of anything created. You can try to manage this yourself, but having a professional review contracts is money well spent, particularly for large purchases like software development or website design.
Myth 5: Crowdfund First, Protect Later
A popular method to raise funds and validate your market is rewards-based crowdfunding. An Indiegogo or Kickstarter campaign can be very lucrative; however, it can also be your company’s’ downfall if you do not protect your product and brand before launching your campaign.
It’s one thing to pitch accredited investors or groups with an IP strategy and no IP filings or registrations. On the other hand, launching a public crowd funding campaign without IP protection not only leads to copycats but can also impact your rights to patent in the US and internationally. Protect before you pitch!
Myth 6: Domain Name Is the Same as Trademark
This is almost two myths in one. Not only is acquiring a domain name different from securing a trademark, clever spelling tricks do not work either. The notion that tweaking the spelling of a familiar competitor’s domain or using a different top-level domain (TLD) (e.g., .net or .me) are big misconceptions around using a familiar name for a similar product or company.
A domain name is just that. You can put up a website on a valid domain name and still receive a cease and desist letter if your name is infringing. If I were to sell soft drinks using a website like koke.com or coke.biz, even though I may properly own those domains, I do not have a trademark and I am likely to hear from Coca-Cola’s legal department. Also, I wasted money on the domains and any branding. Make sure you have a professional search done before you grab that domain name!
Myth 7: No One Cares if I Use this Picture
Another way to receive a cease and desist letter, or worse, a hefty fine, is to just grab content off the internet without first reading the fine print. If you did not take the picture or create the content, you need to find out if you have the rights to use it.
Some creators are happy to have their work used for free, even for commercial purposes, and others may license for a small price. There are many software programs now that check for infringement and using something that is not yours will not go unnoticed.
But wait, you may be thinking: “The picture did not have a copyright symbol on it?!” It simply does not matter. If you did not create it, find out how to use it properly.
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