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4 Legal Documents Involved in Pivoting Your Online Business

woman thinking about pivoting her online business

By the end of this post you’ll know more about four legal documents that are involved in pivoting your online business. And it’s not as intimidating as it sounds. We’re going to be talking about trademark applications, non-disclosure agreements, work for hire, and a trademark license. So here we go.

Trademark Application

So first, a trademark application. Contrary to what you might think, you can’t add to an existing registration. Once you register your trademark, it’s registered in connection with whatever product or service that you’ve registered previously. What you can do is register the same mark, but in connection with a different offering altogether. Are you registered in connection with podcast episodes, but you’re pivoting your online business and offering e-courses under the mark? Simple. You’ll basically file another application for the same trademark, but under that new category, that educational services/e-course category.

Non-Disclosure Agreements (aka NDAs)

People often refer to non-disclosure agreements as confidentiality agreements, they’re the same thing. It basically protects confidential information from being disclosed to the public. Who might you disclose confidential information to when pivoting your business? Maybe a manufacturer, maybe a contractor, but again, that non-disclosure will help keep that information confidential.

Work for Hire/IP Rights Agreement

You’ve heard me talk about Work-for-Hire/IP Rights Agreements before. (I have one for sale in my Contract Kit™ shop). If you’re pivoting your business, odds are that you’re needing some new, creative content. Essentially, anyone that’s creating any creative content for you — whether it’s graphic designs, slides for a presentation, a logo, a new website — anyone creating something creative, should sign this type of agreement. Under U.S. Copyright law, just because you’re paying somebody to create something for you doesn’t mean that you own it. So the purpose of the work for hire/IP rights agreement is to make sure and reinforce that you own all of the copyright to that work product.

Trademark License

And finally, a License Agreement. A license agreement is meant to help you where someone is already offering something that you want to sell. And rather than reinvent the wheel, and come up with a formula for perfume, let’s say, you go to someone already in the business of making perfume, and you license your brand name to that existing product. You may be a blogger for entrepreneurs and you want to venture out into creating a physical planner for instance. Or you are a podcaster but you are venturing out into your own sound equipment line. Or maybe you’ve built your fame around a little ol’ cooking show and now you and Macy’s partner up on things like sheets. (Hello, Martha Stewart.) You are venturing into a new area but you may be licensing your brand and your reputation in connection with an existing brand.

So there you go. You’ve got your trademark application, your nondisclosure agreement or confidentiality agreement, you have a work for hire or IP assignment agreement, and trademark license.

I hope that helps you understand some of the different documents that go into pivoting your online business.


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Make More Money with Trademark Licensing in 2020

Licensing your trademark is a great way to make some extra money without reinventing the wheel. By the end of this post, you’re going to understand what a license is, some special things about trademark licenses, and examples of ways you can make more money with trademark licensing in 2020..

First, what is a license?

A license is another word for “permission,”

It’s not an exclusive grant of rights. (Though there are “exclusive” licenses, that’s not what we’re talking about, here.) In other words, you are not selling or granting your trademark to someone else, you are simply giving them permission to use it, but in a very specific way.

And, speaking of that specific way, there are some special things to think through when you are licensing a trademark as opposed to licensing artwork or creative work.

Special aspects of a trademark license: QC, QC, QC

When you’re licensing a trademark, you are licensing your mark’s “good will.” (If you don’t, it’s considered a “naked license” and you could lose your rights.) Good will is your trademark’s reputation and brand recognition. And for that reason, QC, QC, QC. In other words: Quality Control.

It’s not worth it to make more money with trademark licensing if you don’t have control over how your brand’s reputation is used. You want to be absolutely sure that you have some voice, some control over how your trademark is used. You want the power to control the area in which your trademark will be used by this other company.

Because it is tied back to your brand, you want to be absolutely sure that you have quality control over things like the materials that are used, or maybe artistic aspects. You don’t want the licensed use to stray from your core brand.

So, to paraphrase,, you are essentially “partnering” with another company that already does what you’re wanting to do in connection with your trademark.

A few trademark licensing examples

Check out these examples of how to make more money using trademark licensing:

example of a fashion or beauty influencer making more money using trademark licensing
  • You are a fashion or beauty influencer that wants to create a beauty line. So, you partner with BeautyCounter or another existing makeup line to lend your brand name to a new, specific line within that existing brand.
  • You are a blogger on productivity and planning in business and you want to release a planner under your brand name. You partner with and license your mark to a company that already makes planners, they already have the supply chain nailed down. The company already has suppliers, it knows how to do this, so that all you have to do is maybe be involved in the creative side and, obviously, lend your mark, — and thus, your reputation, your brand — to this product.

Martha Stewart is kind of the mecca of trademark licensing. She started her brand the way she started it. But now, she does sheets and all kinds of things in connection with Macy’s.

Again, if you leave with one thing today, remember that quality control is an essential part of a trademark license. A trademark license could be a great opportunity to expand your brand without reinventing the wheel.

So I hope this helps you understand the possibilities when it comes to making more money using trademark licensing.

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