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This business coaching episode explains how to copyright your business idea or product.

Results-Focused Training, Tools, and Workshops from Expert Business Coaches.

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 1
  • "Nevertheless, many people may not like this album, even though I like it a whole." Actual review from amazon.com
  • Lesson Nugget: It is possible to copyright anything that is an original work.
  • Lesson Nugget: When you copyright something it becomes public knowledge. If you want to keep your business idea to yourself, copyrighting it may not be the best idea.
  • Lesson Nugget: There are other ways to protect your business plan besides getting it copyrighted.
  • Lesson Nugget: A copyright makes your original idea your personal property and keeps others from using it to make money or compete with you.
  • Lesson Nugget: There is a difference between copyrights and patents. The former deals with artistic expressions and ideas, while the latter deals with mechanisms, processes, and inventions.
  • Copyright: "The exclusive right to make copies, license, and otherwise exploit a literary, musical, or artistic work, whether printed, audio, video, etc.: works granted such right by law on or after January 1, 1978, are protected for the lifetime of the author or creator and for a period of 50 years after his or her death." - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

legal and time management tips taught like udemy

[MUSIC]

-What's up, guys. My name is Daniel McKenna. I'm the executive producer here at Thrive15, the online website for entrepreneuers looking to learn time managment tips, marketing, sales, and branding. Today we have Clay Clark and we have Wes Carter, are we're going to be talking about copyrighting your business plan. If you have any questions about copyrighting your business plan, super lawyer, Wes Carter is here for you. We're going to be talking about, how long doe this even take? What should I be copyrighting? Do I even need to copyright my business plan?

Here at Thrive15 we believe that knowledge without application is meaningless. Unless you take the time to learn something today and apply it to your life or your business, today's lesson is going to be more meaningless than putting paper plates in the dishwasher.

-Wes Carter, how are you, sir?

-I'm doing well. How are you doing?

-I am doing-- today is one of these days where I finished listening to the Michael Bolton's Greatest Hits this morning. Because I kind of pulled all-nighter, had a lot of things going on. And you get to the end of that album and you realize he sold 54 million copies of his albums. And regardless of how much I've mocked Michael Bolton over the years, you realize 54 million people have bought that stuff.

-So it could always be worse.

-Yeah, it could always be worse. OK. So how to copyright my business plan. That's what we're talking about today. How to copyright my business plan.

-OK.

-Wes, today we're talking about how to copyright the business plan. I guess I want to ask you this, is we want to kind of deep dive into this and we want to figure out can you copyright a business plan first off? Is this possible?

-It's possible, not necessarily the right thing to do. You can copyright anything that's an original work, song, a book, a text. So it's similar to a book. It's your original ideas. You can protect those through a copyright.

-We've had people all over the Thrive nation emailing us saying, how do I copyright my business plan? So you can do it? You shouldn't necessarily do it, but you can?

-It is possible.

-OK. So from what I'm hearing just by the way you're even saying this, you're saying you might not even want to copyright a business plan and why?

-Very intuitive. First thing is, when you file copyright documents they become public records. So if you're concern is keeping that close to your vest and not letting other people know your great idea before you get the chance to do it yourself, then you've just put it out there on public notice.

-So now by trying to protect your business plan by copyrighting it, you've now just told everybody.

-So think of it like a recipe. If you have the best fried chicken recipe in the world, you don't want to file a copyright for it, otherwise everyone else is going to have that recipe and they'll change it up a little bit and use it that way. So there's other ways to protect it, other than copyright that, especially in the beginning are probably other choices you should consider.

-So let's deep dive and let's set aside the concept of the business plan over here, and let's deep dive into this concept of the whole copyrighting thing. So according to my main man, Webster, the word copyright means the exclusive right to make copies, license, and otherwise exploit a literary, musical, or artistic work, whether printed, audio, video, et cetera. Works granted such right by law on or after January 1, 1978 are protected for the lifetime of the author or creator and for a period of 50 years after his or her death. What happened on January 1, 1978? Or what are we talking about?

-Well that's just when they changed the law. These laws change every once in awhile. But basically you have the right it you come up with an original idea, a drawing, a painting, a song, that's your property. You have a right to keep someone else from using it to compete with you or to use it to make money.

-This example is super funny and I'm going to try to maintain composure because it really happened. There is a guy who came into my office and he's not a Thriver guaranteed. He came in and he was trying to basically rip people off with investment stuff. He claims to have invented this thing which he called table wedges. And they're supposed to go underneath the legs of tables that are uneven to keep them from wobbling. And so he said, do you realize how many legs are on tables throughout the country? Do you how many tables there are in our country? Do you realize how many tables have legs, how many of those need wedges? Billions. And so I want to sell table wedges. As I said, really, and he's like, I have actually copywritten my idea. Is it possible just to copyright something like table wedges?

-No.

-No.

-No. Copyright is for artistic, visual works, text. Any kind of device or process is an issue called a patent.

-OK, so real quick, I want to clarify this. This is for artistic, printed, audio, visual use? Artistic things?

-Artistic things.

-That's what a copyright is for?

-Right.

-And the other kind of protected, legally protected thing is called the--

-Patent.

-The patent. OK, and that is for--

-That's for a mechanism, a process, a new invention.

-So if this guy had, in fact, done an invention, which he did not, he could not have copyrighted it, A--

-Right.

-And then B, if he did protect it, it would have been through a patent?

-Correct.

-Four wedges which anyone could just take a piece of wood or a cardboard and shove underneath a table and fix it. But that's what he

claims.

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Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 2
  • Ask Yourself: Is getting my business plan copyrighted the best way to protect it?
  • Lesson Nugget: A copyright gives a definitive public notice that your original idea only belongs to you.
  • Lesson Nugget: Patents, copyrights, and trademarks carry with them the job of defending them from being stolen or copied from competitors.
  • Lesson Nugget: Focus on branding your products first, rather than defending the copyright.

-So why would anybody, under any circumstance, ever want to copyright a business plan? Or does anybody that-- can you ever even think of a situation where someone would want to copyright a business plan?

-Well it's possible. If your business plan is something maybe that you're going to use, you're going to distribute to other people, you think they might knock you off, or you think you're going to use it as an example to teach other people how to write business plans. There are situations where you might want a copyright it. It's just that if secrecy is your concern, then copyrights probably are not at that point a good thing to do.

-OK. Let's say that I did want to maintain secrecy to protect my idea. What is a good way? Do I just only meet with people in a dark room, no smart phones, no cameras, no mics? How do I do it?

-You can have agreements called non-disclosure agreements. Which is basically just you and I are going to promise to each other that I'm going to show this to you, but you're not going to share it with anyone else.

-Make sure this table is wedged, don't tell anyone else. OK. So that's how that works. So what are the benefits of copyrighting, just in general in your mind? What's the benefit of copyrighting?

-The benefit is if we ever get an argument because you stole something I made, inevitably it's going to come down to us figuring out who had it first. So filing a copyright puts everybody on notice-- an official government filing that this is my idea.

-I'm going to help somebody watching this right now and I'm going to try to save you-- if you're watching this-- I'm going to try to save you $15,000 in 90 seconds. Here we go. There's a person I know, there's other person I know, another person I know, probably 10 persons I know, who spent over two years fighting trying to get copyrights. I know these people. These are people I've met through church, through life, through business who've come to me and said I've been trying to copyright my idea for two years. It's really hard because someone else, I'm trying to protect my idea, and all that.

Well meanwhile, I go to one of my good friends who sold $60 million of products that have sold all across the country. And she said, the moment she put her products in stores, a Chinese company had copied it and already had knockoffs being flooded into the market within months. So she said, take your good idea and try to rush it to market while doing this copyright process. But don't wait to launch the product until you have the copyright or the patent.

-Right.

-Do you agree with that? Is it better to just go ahead and get to market and try to pursue a patent or copyright while you're getting it to market?

-It depends on the product, how novel it is. But when you're talking about things like jewelry, or art, or things that can be easily copied that it's sometimes just a matter of out-branding someone. Because a copyright is good to help enforce it later on, you know, sue them for damages, try to get them to stop making it. But when it comes down to actually getting clients in your door or to your website, it's going to be a matter like you said, just out-branding them and getting that client there.

-And I'm going to take it to the next level. One of the people I know, one of these young ladies-- great lady-- what happened is she then had the idea, the product patented in this case. And then someone did knock her product off and so she's like, stop it-- sends them a cease and desist letter, a letter from an attorney that says stop.

-Right.

-The other attorney responds, I'm not going to stop. My client has had this idea forever, we can disputed it in court if you want, but we're not going to stop. Well, this person didn't even have the money needed-- like so many of us young entrepreneurs when you're starting a business-- they didn't have the money to even fight it in court.

-Right.

-So I would argue, if you're going to go through the process of patenting or copyrighting something, you better make sure you also have the war chest available legally to even fight, to protect it right?

-That's true. Some things like trademarks-- which we haven't talked about yet-- but that protect your brand or your logo. You have a duty to police them, you have a duty to protect them. So if you're out there using it, and I don't stop you, I could lose some of my rights and some of my property if I let you go out there and use it.

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 3
  • Lesson Nugget: It usually takes between 6-12 months for the government to respond to your copyright claim.
  • Lesson Nugget: If you are looking to protect your business plan or idea internationally, there are outlets that allow you to do that.
  • Action Step: Talk to an attorney about filing a copyright or patent.
  • Lesson Nugget: It is important to consult with an experienced attorney that deals specifically with copyrights or patents.

-So how long does it take to copyright something or to patents something? I know that's a broad statement. I'm not holding you accountable to a specific month or date or time. But as a general rule, how long does it take to copyright or to patent something. Let's just say you did want to copyright your business plan, or you did want to patent your invention? How long does that take.

-Copyrights-- you file the application. You can file them online now with the government. And it doesn't take that long to complete the application and get it in. And the government's pretty good with copyrights. Within six months-- a year if it takes a long time-- they'll respond. that's quick for the government.

-So you said the government's pretty good. You said it with a straight face. You weren't laughing. You weren't mocking. He respects our government, and you're not mocking them. And I respect you for respecting that. But for me, who-- I don't understand how you could possibly have just said what you just said. You said they're pretty good at responding. And it usually takes them 6 months to 12 months?

-Well, it depends some of them go through a little quicker. If you have any issues with the application, sometimes it could take a little bit longer.

-What's the longest you've ever seen, heard of maybe?

-Well, I've seen some trademarks go on for years.

-Years? What? Now, what's the fastest you've ever seen?

-30 days? 60 days?

-60 days. I just want to be real. There's a lot of entrepreneurs watching this-- you're spastic entrepreneurs, your serial entrepreneurs. You're like, let's go. You need to understand that entrepreneurship is a marathon. It's about making the right decisions and diligently-- that's a continuous application of effort-- applying yourself, following up, following up, and having your attorney diligently follow to make sure the process is happening. But it does take six months sometimes.

-It does take patience, any time you're doing with the government, because all of these are regulated by the federal government if you're in the United States. Or there's intellectual property organizations that do worldwide, so if you want to protect your stuff in China, in Canada, in the UK, there's bodies out there that you can file things with to protect it all over the world.

-So let's say I'm watching this right now. I have a product that I want to get a patent, or an artistic work that I want to go ahead and copyright. What is step one in your mind?

-Either one, it's very important talk to an attorney. A copyright is something that's relatively inexpensive, as far as the value it brings. A patent on the other hand, is a very expensive proposal to file a patent. They've got to do an extensive patent search. It's a special attorney that can even file a patent for you. They have to have a special license to file a patent. So it's very important with either one to consult an experienced attorney that deals with copyrights or patents.

-What does a patent cost?

-It varies widely. It's impossible to give you even a range.

-Lowest. Lowest, like you're just--

Low-balling--

- --low ball.

-I would be surprised if you could get a patent for less than $5,000.

-What? That's the least, maybe. And then the biggest-- I mean, I might spend even 20,000 on a patent.

-If it's a complicated scientific invention you could be talking tens of thousands of dollars just to file the application.

-Sweet piece of paper. And on the copyright side, how much are we talking?

-Copyright-- few hundred bucks.

-Few hundred bucks, OK. So if you're watching this and you're going, I don't have the money needed to patent my idea, my recommendation-- not legally-- my recommendation is rush it to market. Market that thing. Make sure you're not infringing somebody else's idea. I would rush it to market. And when money comes in I would put money into patenting the product.

-Yeah, go talk to your attorney. Most of them will give you a free consultation for like 30 seconds and find out what the cost is going to be and see if you can build your business around it. If not, then you have to deal with what you're working with.

-Wes Carter, not related-- legally not related-- to Sean Carter, Clarence Carter, or Vince Carter-- basketball player, still in the NBA after four seasons. I appreciate you for being here. You are a great American.

-My pleasure.

-Thank you.

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