3 Legal Blunders That Can Kill Your New Business

3 Legal Blunders That Can Kill Your New Business

on Jul 2, 2018 in Small business

Starting your own business brings so many challenges. You’ll have to learn how to handle your finances, manage a team, market a product effectively and juggle all of your duties without losing your mind. But one thing that people often underestimate is just how complicated the legal aspects can be.

There are so many rules and regulations involved with running a company and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can easily land yourself in trouble. In the worst cases, legal problems can mean the end of your business altogether. To help you make sure that you survive long enough to start turning a profit, we’ve put together a list of the biggest legal blunders that new business owners make and how you can avoid them.


Not Protecting Your Intellectual Property

You’ve come up with an incredible product idea, a catchy company name and an eye-catching logo. It’s time to launch your company and start selling. But before you do that, you need to make sure that you protect yourself. If you haven’t taken the necessary steps to protect your intellectual property, there’s nothing stopping somebody else using your name and logo, or even recreating your product and selling it themselves.


The first thing you need to do is get a patent on your product. Often, you won’t be able to get a patent on the product as a whole, especially if it’s a common product, but you can get a patent on the parts that make it unique. For example, you can’t patent a vacuum cleaner but you can patent a mechanism that makes it easier to empty. Obviously, other companies can still sell vacuum cleaners but nobody can sell one that works exactly like yours. You can file for a patent online yourself but if you’re not sure about the process, it might be best to get a patent attorney to help you with it. As well as protecting your product from the competition, it’s important that you file for a patent to make sure you aren’t accidentally using somebody else’s design. Even if you think that your idea is original, somebody else may have done it already and you’ll be breaking the law if you start selling it.


Now that you’ve got your patent and you’re sure that the product can’t be recreated by anybody else, you need to make sure that nobody can use your company name and logo, that’s where trademarks come in. First things first, what is a trademark? A trademark is essentially a badge of ownership over a name or a logo. It says that, legally, your company owns that intellectual property and nobody else can use it without your permission. Again, you can apply for a trademark online yourself and it’s fairly easy. It’ll cost you somewhere between $250 and $330. It’s important that you check that nobody else has already registered the name, otherwise, you’ll be wasting that money.


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Hiring Illegal Employees

When you first start out, you might be handling everything yourself but once you start to see some growth, you’ll need to hire your first employees. If you aren’t careful, you can end up on the wrong side of the law, resulting in fines or even company closure. The biggest mistake you can make is hiring employees who don’t have a legal right to work in this country. It’s down to you to make sure that they have all of the relevant paperwork. If they’re registered as a citizen, it’s fairly straightforward, but if you’re hiring people that have a work visa, it’s vital that you check and check again. You may be presented with false documents so it’s always best to be cautious and get a legal professional to look over them for you.


Privacy Policy On Your Website

The way that companies handle the personal data they collect about their customers is a big issue at the moment following a number of scandals involving sites like Facebook. In the wake of revelations about data handling, a lot of countries are changing the laws around data use so companies have to clearly set out exactly how they’re going to use that data. If you aren’t clear, you could end up on the wrong side of the law so make sure you are thorough. The biggest mistake new companies make is copying the privacy policy straight off another site because they think that they’re all uniform. The problem is, different companies have to consider different things; for example, if you’re selling age-restricted products then you need to outline how you’ll deal with younger visitors. The best thing to do is consult a legal professional and have them help you write a policy.


If you make these legal blunders you can easily find yourself on the wrong side of the law and in some cases, that might mean the business being shut down for good.    



Image credit:  Flickr.com

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