You’ve spent so much time creating an amazing online course for your clients. You created copy, a sales page, videos, and maybe even handouts or worksheets. But do you have any of it protected? You might not realize what you need to do to protect your business and your content until it happens. I hear from so many of you how you didn’t create a policy in your business until after you’d already been through some disappointing situation. Not anymore! Today we’re chatting all about the legal info you need to protect your online course or program.
So let’s get started!
1 // Protect Intellectual Property
You’ll want to protect your logo, course name, and materials for your course. You want to protect these for a few reasons…
- You worked super hard to create this amazing course, so don’t give it away.
- So no one else ‘steals’ or copies your content and passes it off as her own.
- So your course enrollees don’t pass around your hard work to people who haven’t paid for the course.
For your logo/course name/tagline, you’ll want to think about trademark registration. You can register the actual logo (design) and the course name, as long as it’s A. trademarkable (yes, that’s a word) and B. isn’t being used by someone else already. You can typically find out if someone else is already using the course name or tagline by searching the United States Patent & Trademark Office (“USPTO”) database and performing a thorough online (Google, etc.) search.
If you’re super serious about your course, you might want to think about talking to a local attorney who can perform an extensive search for you and who can let you know whether your name/logo is likely to be approved by the USPTO. The USPTO doesn’t approve all submissions and you don’t get a refund if your submission is rejected <— FUN FACT
As for your materials (course handouts, worksheets, copy, etc.), you’ll want to put a copyright mark on all of them. For that, you’ll put the © [year of publication] [legal entity name aka. registered business name]. So, for example, mine would be: © 2017 Sam Vander Wielen LLC. You can also formally register your copywritten materials (again, they have to be copyrightable) with the U.S. Copyright Office.
2 // Protecting Users’ Privacy
3 // Taking Payment
4 // No Sharing
5 // Can I Get A Refund?
You need a clear refund policy, in writing, before users purchase your online course or program. Do you have a 30-day money back guarantee? Is it no questions asked? Do they have to prove they tried a certain number of modules? These are all things you’ll need to spell out.
Also, if you do allow refunds, be clear about how many days in which someone can request one, who they contact to get it, and whether any fees are returned as well.
6 // Must Play Well With Others
You can also set out your policy on conduct in the course’s Facebook group, membership portal, or group calls. Can people promote their services or products to the group? Can they invite other people in? What is your policy if they post or share spam?
7 // Disclaim Liability
This is where we get into the legal mumbo jumbo. Lucky for you, my DIY legal templates have all this language built in. That way, you don’t have to search around for hours online only to copy and paste something you’re not even sure is right.
8 // Medical, Fitness, or Business Disclaimer
What questions do you have about what you need to do to protect your online course or program? What are your concerns or challenges with doing so? Tell me in the comments or email me!
Before you go, watch my free on-demand workshop ‘The First 5 Steps to Legally Protect & Grow Your Online Business’ HERE. You can watch it anytime that works for you. At the end of the workshop, you’ll have a clear, easy plan to legally protect and legitimize your online business. Enjoy! xo