It must be launch season, because I’m seeing a lot of new programs and courses launching, which is always exciting. Unfortunately, I’m also seeing a lot of dangerous legal mistakes around launching; mainly, ignoring legal altogether. 🙈 Not having the right policies and contracts in place and doing the right clearances pre-launch can leave you vulnerable to trademark infringement claims, default payments, early cancellation and refund requests, stolen content…and more (I’ve seen all of these and they can be incredibly expensive, time-consuming, and painful).
- To clear the name you’re considering for your program via a trademark clearance/knockout search. This best done by a lawyer, who can also assess your likelihood of being able to trademark the name you’re considering at the same time, but you can do the bare minimum yourself. Head to my Resources page for my trademark checklist for more and a step-by-step.
- Independent Contractor Agreement: having someone help build your program? Providing copy, graphics, a funnel? They need to sign your Independent Contractor Agreement with a built-in NDA (non-disclosure agreement; protects your confidential ideas, methods, and content within the program, as well as prospect lists, and more). Often, contractors will have their own contracts they want you to sign. DON’T SIGN ANYTHING WITHOUT HAVING A LAWYER REVIEW IT FIRST! Seriously, I’ve seen some crazy contracts. Especially if someone is going to have access to your unique ideas and business methods, you need to ensure you’re adequately protected. Even if the lawyer okays their contract, I’d still recommend you have the contractor sign an NDA, too.
When You Need a Collaboration Agreement, Too:
If you and another business owner are building a group program or course jointly, meaning you’re sharing expenses, profits, and losses, and will jointly decide how it’s sold and marketed, a Collaboration Agreement mapping out who owns what and how finances are handled is crucial. Under copyright law, joint owners have joint copyright rights, meaning you both own the program. This probably sounds fine in theory and is great at the beginning when everyone is excited and on the same page. However, it can get really messy if you two have a falling out. What if you disagree on how to market the program? One of you no longer wants to sell it, and doesn’t want the other party to sell it either? What if you disagree on content? On having guest speakers? What if they stop paying their share of expenses, or withhold profits from you?
When You Need a Guest Release
If you’re having someone teach in your program, but you’ll still own the program and direct how and when it’s sold, you need a Guest Release, otherwise they’ll have copyright rights in their content, and can withdraw their permission for you to use it at any time! A Guest Release allows you to use the content how you wish, repackage it, resell it, etc.
I don’t have a Guest Release template because these can be so nuanced, I can’t get broad enough to cover all types of guest appearances while still maintaining the level of detail anyone who has bought contracts from me knows is in my contracts 😉 Email me or reach out via the Contact page if you need a Release and we can work on a solution, I’ve done a ton of these.
Prefer your contracts drafted by me and tailored specifically to your program/collaboration? Check out the “Work with Me 1:1” link in my bio for info on the process and investment. You can book a call with me there, too.