If you have built a new website or have done a refresh to your old website (to get rid of the website shame you were feeling), congratulations!
A lot of business owners that I talk to have either not focused on the legal requirements for their website or are relying on their web developers or web designers to have included what they need.
Don't Assume Your Web Person Has Got This Handled
In my experience, most web developers and web designers are focused on the user experience and design of your website, but not the legal stuff. They may pull a template from somewhere, but very few of them customize the website templates for Canadians and for your specific business needs.
So what to do? I’ve got you covered.
Registering a trademark can be an important part of protecting your business brand online.
If you want to read more about how copyright protects your content online, you can refer to this article.
So if you are in the early days of creating your brand, there are a couple of things to be thinking about before you spend a ton of money and energy on marketing.
The most obvious first step is to do a Canadian trademark search so that you know that there are no similar words or logos that are already registered for your category of goods or services.
But an often overlooked NEXT STEP is to think about whether the brand - being a product name, for instance, is too DESCRIPTIVE, to be registered (and therefore protected as a Trademark.
From the Trademark Guide of Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), these are some trademarks that can not be registered:
Trademarks that are generally unregistrable include the following:
Congratulations on starting your online business. Whether you have been running this business offline for a while or whether this is a brand new business to you, there are a lot of things to think about legally, especially for Canadian online businesses.
This article will help you understand what you need to do legally to protect yourself and your business and to set yourself up for success on a strong legal foundation.
The Four Legal Protections To Put On Your Website
When you have an online business, your website is where you welcome new people. It’s like your storefront on the internet. You may have spent some time making your website look sharp and tweaking your message and content, but you also need these four legal things:
My online business mentor, Amy Porterfield, just released a podcast episode this week with US Attorney, Ashley Kirkwood, talking about protecting your online content. I highly recommend that you listen to that episode here.
As a reminder, copyright laws protect your content. Trademark laws protect your brand.
One of the recommendations, which I completely agree with, is to do a trademark search BEFORE you launch a new online course or digital product to make sure you are not infringing on anyone's trademarks.
I have already gotten questions from two business owners who listened to this episode about how to do a Trademark Search for Canada.
To do a trademark search, you will find the Canadian Trademarks Database on the Government of Canada website. The link is here.
If you click on "Additional Search Options" you can narrow your search in "Category" to Trademarks and under "Type" to Work Marks. This will help to give you more relevant search results.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a "template" as:
- a gauge, pattern, or mold used as a guide to the form of a piece being made
- something that establishes or serves as a pattern
One of the ways that I strive to help Canadians doing business online is through the creation of made-in-Canada legal templates.
A good template serves as a guide - not just an example of a type of document. The difference is you will know what parts may need to be customized and what parts are a key part of the structure.
And all legal templates should be specific to your home country - using UK or US legal documents for Canadian businesses means the template will not be the best fit.
You also need to understand when to use which template. A good template will give you some context for its use and let you know when it may not be appropriate to use.
I have been talking a lot recently about the importance of protecting your business online. An important piece of this is to understand how to use copyright and trademark laws to your benefit.
It is easy to get confused about the differences between copyright protection and trademarks.
The best way that I can boil it down is that Copyright protects your content. Trademarks protect your brand.
Copyright laws (in Canada and internationally through treaties) protect the original content that you create and publish. Online courses, blog posts, photos, podcasts, ebooks, songs can all be copyrighted works.
Copyright protection is automatic upon publication of an original work. Registration is possible (and easy!) but not required.
Using the © symbol along with a copyright notice is a good preventative measure. i.e. © Legal Essentials Inc. 2020. All Rights Reserved.
Trademarks protect elements of your brand which can include business names, product names, slogans,...
This week’s video blog is on the topic of copyright and how to protect your business creations.
Click on the video link here to view.
You can find the website for the federal agency CIPO (Canadian Intellectual Property Office) referred to in the blog can be found here.