Got your membership site up? Great, now learn how to PROTECT IT from trademark infringement! (nobody likes a lawsuit).
Membership sites are a fantastic way to grow your biz and income. 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??
So first up, 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 and 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 ®. If you ARE ready to trademark, head over HERE to learn about our trademark package, Make Your Mark!
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.
Sarah Kornblet Waldbuesser, Esq.
Attorney for Coaches & Online Business Owners
After several years at a law firm and a few career jumps, she ended up falling in love with online business and loves helping entrepreneurs achieve their dreams in a smart and protected way. She is also an adventurer, traveler, and food and wine lover. When not at her computer, she loves hanging with her family, having wine with friends, flying around the globe and connecting with other online business owners.