Recently I had an experience that taught me a lot about protecting myself and my business, and that I thought might help you as well.
For years now, I’ve regularly shared my proprietary intellectual property for free online. I post slideshows, record videos and write blog posts with stories and advice for small business owners, all with the ultimate goal of delivering lots of value to generate exposure and drive referrals.
I have often been asked “how do you prevent people from stealing your content?” And I’ve always answered the question by referring to one of my favorite fables. The way I see it, I’m like the goose that lays golden eggs: you can steal my “golden eggs” (AKA – my ideas, content and stories), but at the end of the day, I’m always one step ahead, producing more. In other words, you can take my content, but you can’t take my brain.
As it turns out, I was naive. Instead of sticking my head in the sand and ignoring several red flags – people lifting my content and using it without proper credit – I should’ve safeguarded my intellectual property more proactively.
Now that I’m working with a lawyer, I’ve learned that there are lots of ways to protect intellectual capital – from filing trademarks and submitting my work for copyright protection, to quickly addressing sticky situations rather than avoiding confrontation and turning a blind eye, confident that my “Golden Goose” theory was protection enough. While now I’m well on my way to being protected, I could’ve saved a significant amount of time, energy and heartache (not to mention money!) had I acted sooner.
My point is: If you make money from your ideas, intellectual capital, proprietary systems, processes or content, then you, too, should consider protecting yourself NOW rather than waiting for a rude wakeup call like the one I got.
Talk to a lawyer (if you want a referral to mine, let me know, he’s AWESOME) and find out what you can do to protect yourself.
Cheers to your success!!
(vee - ya - low - bos)