3 legal mistakes to avoid when starting an online business

If you’re thinking about starting a business, Attorney Berkley Sweetapple wants to help you avoid costly legal errors. She sat down with Jessica Abo to discuss how she helps clients through her practice and legal templates shop.

Jessica Abo: Berkley, you are the founder of a Legal Template Shop and Berkley Sweetapple Law. Tell us a little bit about your company and your practice.

Berkley Sweet Apple:

I have a legal template shop where I offer creative entrepreneurs affordable, downloadable, fillable legal documents like contracts and website policies. I also have a law firm where I work one on one with online business owners. I mainly deal with trademarks, contracts, copyrights and website policies.

All very important things. Have you always wanted to be a lawyer?

When I was five, my father, who was a lawyer, told me that the only way I was going to get the pot-bellied pig I wanted as a pet was to become a lawyer and fight the city where I lived with the local building codes changing.

did you get the pig

I didn’t get the pig, but I knew I wanted to be a lawyer just like him so that one day I could grow up and fight for things like keeping pet pigs. I went to law school after college but never felt that the traditional path to a law firm was right for me. After graduating from law school, I created a lifestyle blog as a side hobby and decided I wanted to monetize the blog and turn it into a business. I took online courses and eventually met other creative entrepreneurs who needed legal advice on the online business/blog space. I really enjoyed working with entrepreneurs who had online businesses and began furthering my education in this area of ​​law while working full-time as a litigator. Seven years after graduating from law school, I quit practicing litigation to pursue my template store and law practice full-time.

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

My clients are primarily trainers, online course creators, website designers, copywriters, graphic designers and other online business owners. My favorite area of ​​work is trademarks, which is about helping business owners get the exclusive right to use their company name, slogan or logo in their industry. Since trademark law is state, I have clients with online businesses in all 50 states.

You’ve been at this for a while. What do you think is the most costly legal error you’ve ever seen?

The most common and costly legal mistake business owners make is using a company name without first making sure it’s available. When starting a business, it’s important to make sure someone else didn’t trademark the name first, lest you receive a cease and desist letter from their attorney and be forced to rebrand the name. Changing a company name after launch along with the branding, packaging, and web design that comes with the company name can be frustrating and expensive. It’s also important to register a trademark as soon as possible so that no one does it before you. If you have used the competitor’s name and trademarks first, litigation can become very expensive when trying to enforce your rights.

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

First, make sure your business name is available before investing in branding or web design, or before getting too attached to the name. Hire an attorney to do a comprehensive trademark search. Make sure it’s available and make it trademarked. Second, have site policies. If you have any type of website such as B. a blog or an e-commerce store, you need some legal documents on your website. First, you should have terms of service, which are basically your contract with anyone who comes to your site or makes a purchase from your site. The Terms of Use contain the necessary disclaimers, your refund policy, and intellectual property clauses. A privacy policy is required by law when you collect consumer data of any kind. Finally, make sure you have contracts with your individual clients as well as any independent contractors that you hire.

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

In my template shop I try to make it as simple as possible. I’ve created contract templates tailored for different types of service providers that can be downloaded and completed in twenty minutes. When working individually, I try to make the customer experience as easy and efficient as possible. For example, I work on a flat fee model for trademark law so clients never have to worry about costs adding up. I handle everything in the trademark process, from filing to official acts, so clients don’t have to worry about the legal stuff and can focus on what they love.

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