Got your membership site up? Great, now learn how to protect It

Membership sites are a fantastic way to grow your biz and income.

Besides protecting your income and business through having a proper agreement in place between you and every. single. member. (agreed to at first sign-up!), you want to also protect the amazing content you are creating.

There are a few important ways to do this!  

The first is through clauses in your agreement that clearly state your copyright claim over every video, PDF, module, etc that you create. While yes, each one of these pieces is automatically yours and protected by virtue of your creating it, including this extra legal language is good practice.  

The next step is to actually register the copyright with the US Gov (or your government). This means submitting all the modules, videos, PDFs, in a big batch along with a $35 fee. You will then be given a copyright registration number which means you have the right to file formal legal action against anyone that steals it (without this number, you don’t have legal rights in court but can send a Cease & Desist letter in attempts to get them to stop).  

With this handy number you may also automatically be entitled to statutory damages ($$$).  It’s a simple inexpensive process that can come with big piece of mind.

You have been dreaming about your new membership site for months (or years!). It’s finally happening but you are really struggling with the name.  Or perhaps you’ve settled on the name but still have that little nagging feeling wondering if anyone else is using it??

HERE ARE A FEW TIPS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN PICKING YOUR NAME TO MAKE SURE YOU DON'T RUN INTO TRADEMARK ISSUES:

1. Google It. IMMEDIATELY. And don’t just check page 1 - go up to page 10-15 and see if anyone in your industry is using it. This is the quickest way to weed out direct competitors that may have trademark rights.

What, what are trademark rights? Meaning someone else already has a claim to that name. If they are in a similar industry and also doing a similar service (online course, membership site, coaching, etc.) they likely already have a legal right to it.

2. Do a trademark search - anyone can go to www.uspto.gov and do a basic trademark search. What you are looking for is whether there are LIVE marks that use your name for a similar service.

3. But don’t worry about officially trademarking (yet) - registering a trademark is quite a process (you can read more about it in this blog post but overall I don’t suggest thinking about going through the registration process until you are 110% sure that this name and site is sticking around. The process is an investment because you will want to hire a lawyer (usually $1-3K) and can take anywhere from 6 months - 2 years to be complete.  Once you decide your name is yours to start, you can use the ™ next to it, and then consider registration a bit down the line (at which point you will get to use the ®.

4. Be careful with teaching about other businesses. If you are running a membership site on “How to use Facebook Ads”  “Build a WordPress site like a boss”  “Dominate on Twitter”  you need to be careful as you very well may not be (and are likely not) permitted to use their name in your name/branding.  ALWAYS check their Terms of Service when thinking about utilizing names in your marketing.

Google your name, do a trademark search, and eventually register your trademark. The bottom line is: make sure no one else is using your name, and don’t worry about registration until down the road when you are 110% sure this name is sticking around.  

There you have it! While of course there are notsonice people around the webs and your content may be stolen (even by your own members!) but having these safeguards in place is a big step towards protecting your site! 

Once you have your name, you want to make sure to protect the content on your membership site AND protect your income and business through having a proper agreement in place.