the legal resource for fitness entrepreneurs
the legal resource for fitness entrepreneurs

3 legal reasons why your fitness business may not own your brand!

Did you know that you may not own your logos or images you had created for your fitness brand?

YUP. It is true. Come watch to learn why and how to fix it!

 

Did you know that you might not actually own the rights to the logo that you’re using? Did you know that someone could actually stop you from using that logo at any time? It’s true. Let’s dive right in to the legalities of having a logo created for your fitness business.

Okay guys, I get it, it’s so easy just to log onto Fivver, Upwork, or Etsy, or one of those places and get a really quick logo slapped together so you can get it on your website to push out whatever services or products that you’re trying to sell in the fitness industry. I understand it, but there’s some fundamental legal things that you guys need to be aware of. When you’re hiring individuals who are contractors, they’re not coming on as employees of yours, by default without any signings, or writings, or anything to convey the intellectual property rights in that logo, or maybe they’re creating images for you, they’re taking photographs, all of those intellectual property works remain the ownership of that contractor. So, what? What does that mean?

Let me break it down just a little bit for you. Intellectual property, this is something that all of you guys have in business. If you’re in business you have a business name, that’s intellectual property. And typically the main two types of intellectual property that you guys probably hear about in legal stuff are copyrights and trademarks. Now, when I’m talking about logos, images, I’m focusing primarily on copyrights here, but the fundamental legalities of who owns the rights in these creative works, whether it’s the logo, or your social media updates, your blog posts, your images that are going on your social media, all of that could not be owned by you. You think though, when you hire somebody to create something for you that you should own it, you should get to do what you want with it, right? Wrong. In the United States by default an independent contractor, somebody that’s not an employee for you, someone that’s not a W2 type employee, that contractor retains the ownership rights in whatever it is they created. Logo is a prime example, photographs are another huge one that are plaguing the fitness industry these days. Guys, you don’t own them.

What does that mean? A, you can never try to protect them. Someone steals your logo, you can never try to enforce upon somebody else because you don’t own the rights to enforce it. Maybe you want to go to trademark the logo, you don’t have the rights to do it, because it remained with the contractor. It is property of the contractor, the person that created it for you. And last but not least, and the most scary out of this, the person that owns or the entity that owns the rights and that logo, or these images could stop you from using them at any time. If you filled up your website with logo and images or your Instagram feed with all these images, and you think that you own them, that sucks when you get sent a notice saying you need to stop using them. And then if you continue, you could get slapped with a copyright infringement lawsuit.

So, what is the solution for this? It is so simple you guys are going to be, “Oh my God Rachel, why didn’t you start with that?” Guys it is simple. When you task out, when you send out a job on to one of these sites, or maybe it’s a friend that does logos down the street, or your local photographer you need to do some key things. Whether they are on staff with you, or they’re a contractor, and I know I just said contractors are the ones that have ownership, so we need to have it turned over to us, but I still recommend even when someone is an employee for you that you have a written contract that for any works that they create belongs to you, belongs to your business entity, it belongs to your brand.

So what did I just say? I just said that you guys need to make sure that anybody you hire, whether employee or contractor, they’re signing documentation that is transferring over all intellectual property rights to you. Now, I understand that sometimes there may be pushback from a logo designer, or a photographer, or a social media virtual assistant, or marketing manager, but you have to consider this all boils down to negotiations, and it is really important. Everything that I have mentioned are intellectual property assets that should be owned by your business for the reasons that I’ve outlined, but also consider this. They are your brand. Everything that’s outward facing, you need to have control over, and that includes maybe one day you’re going to sell off the business. I know many times entrepreneur don’t want to think about that, but you do, and if you don’t own any of that you can’t sell it.

So, just keep in mind that you guys need to think about the project that you’re having someone do, go ahead and have them sign some written documentation signing over the intellectual property rights to you. If they have a pushback on that maybe consider explaining to them, send them this video ’cause they probably don’t know what’s going on. It’s nothing wrong if they try to be compensated for the full ownership of whatever the works it is that they’ve created, and that’s super common in commercial business, because guess what, you’re in commercial business if you’re selling a product or service. So, written documentation, have it signed over or you guys are risking your brand, and risking your business, and all of the elements that are marketing your business right now.

Hope this helps you guys. Please make sure you subscribe to Fit Legally so I can send you guys some legal tips, new videos, and other tricks to keep your fitness business protected.

 

3 legal reasons why your fitness business may not own your brand!

About the author

Team USA Athlete. Lawyer. Business Consultant. She current competes in multisport events and lives in Virginia with her five kids, Military Veteran husband and two rescue puppy dogs.

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