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97. How To Protect Your Business With Trademarks with Michelle Murphy

30 March 2021 | By Salome Schillack

Ever feel like all lawyers are just stuffy suit-clad people saying words you can’t understand?

Well, in that case, you haven’t met Michelle Murphy — the coolest lawyer on Instagram

Michelle is a small business attorney who helps creatives and online course creators overcome their fear of legal mumbo jumbo. She helps them protect their business with copyrights and trademarks that will secure their legacy for generations to come.

She’s an absolute genius at what she does (she made trademarking The Launch Lounge feel like a breeze), but the best thing about her is that she breaks down clunky legal processes into simple, relatable concepts that we creative types can easily understand. 

And that’s exactly what she’ll be doing on today’s episode of The Shine Show! Tune in to hear Michelle talk about the A-B-Cs of trademarking your business. She walks you through the complete process you’ll have to go through to finally get your hands on a trademark certificate!

If you’ve been putting off getting a trademark or copyright because the whole legal process feels intimidating, you definitely need to give this episode a listen. 

And when you’re done, come find me on Instagram, @salome.schillack to tell me what your biggest takeaways from today’s episode are!

When you subscribe and review the podcast not only does that give me the warm and fuzzies all over, it also helps other people to find the show.

When other people find the show they get to learn how to create more freedom in their lives from their online courses too!!

So do a good deed for all womenkind and subscribe and review this show and I will reward you with a shout out on the show!!

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Salome Schillack (00:00):

Hello and welcome to episode number 97 of The Shine Show. Today, I have a very special guest, but before I introduce her to you, I want to remind you that we are oh so close to episode number 100. On episode number 100, I will be announcing a very special winner. This winner will receive a two and a half hour, either launch or business strategy session with me. So, you can bring your ads, your launch strategy, or your business strategy, and we will unpack it all over the course of two and a half hours. You will walk away from it, having an actionable plan to know what to do next in your business to get to a more profitable launch or scale your business faster.

All you have to do to stand a chance to win the session is you have to rate and review the podcast for me. Once you have rated and reviewed the podcast, take a screenshot, and then send me that screenshot as a DM on Instagram. I'm salome.schillack on Instagram. So, send me that screenshot, and then one lucky person will get the chance to win a two and a half hour strategy session with me. So, go do that now, and then come back, and listen to episode number 97, How to Protect Your Business with Trademarks with Michelle Murphy.

Michelle is the owner of Wilson Murphy Law and the CEO of The Legal Loft. Michelle works with small businesses and creatives to secure and protect their business through trademarks, contracts, copyrights, and business formations. She has worked with over a hundred businesses to get them legit and to secure their legacy for generations to come. Michelle's mission is to help small businesses overcome their fear of the legal operations and put preventative measures in place, so they can continue making an impact on their community.

Giving up your time and freedom to make money is so 2009. Hi. I'm your host, Salome Schillack, And I help online course creators launch, grow and scale their businesses with Facebook and Instagram ads so that they can make more money and have an even bigger impact in the world. If you're ready to be inspired, to dream bigger, launch sooner, and grow your online business faster, then tune in because you are ready to shine, and this is The Shine Show. Michelle, welcome to The Shine Show. I'm so happy to have you here.

Michelle Murphy (02:53):

Thank you for having me.

Salome Schillack (02:55):

Oh, I am so thrilled to have this conversation with you. I have to tell you how I found you. I don't know if you know this. I was just having a moment on Instagram, and I was like, "I'm pretty sure there must be a really good lawyer somewhere who can help me trademark The Launch Lounge." I just did a quick lawyer search on Instagram and up popped the funkiest lawyer. I was like, "This girl speaks my language." You are the coolest lawyer on Instagram. So, tell us a little bit about who you are and how you came to be the coolest lawyer on Instagram.

Michelle Murphy (03:38):

Sure. So, first of all, my name is Michelle Murphy, and I am a small business attorney. I'm focused mostly on contracts and trademarks for online business owners and creatives. So, when I started out, I knew that I just wanted to be more relatable than what I see everywhere when it comes to attorneys, and I think I have accomplished that at this point.

Salome Schillack (04:04):

I think you have. You are incredibly related.

Michelle Murphy (04:11):

Yeah. I knew that I was like I don't wear suits. I will never wear a suit. That just brand is not me. It's never going to be me, and I had to figure out how to navigate this with people still taking me seriously but still being able to be myself. So, it's a fine balance, and now that I have my audience, it's easier to be myself. I will say at the beginning, it was hard. It was hard.

Salome Schillack (04:42):

You said it was hard. Did you used to work in a corporate office and do all the lawyer things and then-

Michelle Murphy (04:50):

So, I worked for the government, so kind of on the other side of corporate. It was a bit more relaxed what I was doing, but still, I mean, just in general, attorneys just have this stigma that they're really uptight, really stuffy. They wear suits, and you can't really talk to them. That's not me. I never was that. Even in law school, I didn't relate to my own class so okay, yeah.

Salome Schillack (05:19):

Well, you have done so well. I love your little reels, videos and all your fun dress up videos. I love it. That's so cool. When did you start working for yourself then?

Michelle Murphy (05:30):

So, January 2019.

Salome Schillack (05:32):

Okay. You stepped away from your work in the government and just started your own firm?

Michelle Murphy (05:37):

Yep. Yeah, exactly. I was used to working at home, and I just could not see myself, pre-COVID, I could not see myself working in an office again. So, there's no better time than now to try this out. If it doesn't work, go back. I mean, it's not a big deal.

Salome Schillack (05:58):

Yeah. That's the beauty of having your skills is you can-

Michelle Murphy (06:01):

Right.

Salome Schillack (06:02):

Awesome. So, you get to have fun and play around.

Michelle Murphy (06:04):

Exactly.

Salome Schillack (06:06):

So, then you started your business as doing contracts and trademarks for online course creators and online entrepreneurs.

Michelle Murphy (06:14):

Yep, exactly. I did. Actually, my focus was going to be influencers, so the social media influencers because I was a blogger back in college. So, I was like, oh, okay. I mean, this is a whole another thing. So, I had a dream one night about a really popular social media influencer, and she was in trouble legally. I was like, "Why don't you just call your lawyer?" She's like, "I don't think we have lawyers for this." I literally shot up at 2:00 a.m. and I was like, "Is this something?"

So, I started Googling. I'm like attorneys for social media, and they popped up. So, I looked and saw what areas of law they were in. They were mostly contracts and trademarks. I was like, okay, well I think I can do this too. That's pretty much how this was born because I was in a totally another area ramping up. I was in something totally and completely different, and then I switched 30 days out, which obviously, knowing me now, that was not a good idea, knowing the marketing side of all of it, but you live and you learn.

Salome Schillack (07:24):

Well, I want to say it fits you like a glove. It fits you like a glove. I feel like there is a light that radiates from you that when you said influencers, it just ... Anyone who goes to your Instagram account ... What's your Instagram account?

Michelle Murphy (07:40):

Thetrademarkattorney_.

Salome Schillack (07:43):

There you go. Thetrademarkattorney_. So, anyone who goes to your ... It makes so much sense. Just saying that because you just shine when you are doing the whole influencer Instagram. It's just incredible. It's amazing, so I think you have found your calling. I'm very glad you had that dream.

Michelle Murphy (08:04):

Thank you.

Salome Schillack (08:06):

So, let's talk about those contracts. You said you had to go and kind of go, "Well, what contracts do influencers need?" Most of my listeners are maybe starting out, so they might not have 50 or 100,000 followers, right, but they are ... and maybe they're not even planning on having that. Some of them don't want to be influencers, but they do want to sell online courses and memberships. So, let's talk about those contracts. What contracts do we need when we're just starting out?

Michelle Murphy (08:37):

So, I would say, number one, you want terms and conditions because you want people to follow your rules. Terms and conditions are setting boundaries. You want that from the beginning. So, inside of those terms and conditions, you can tell people how to treat all of your intellectual property, which is important, and we'll talk about that, the trademark stuff, the copyright stuff later, but I mean, especially with courses, that is what it is. Your intellectual property is everything when it comes to your courses. Then, also just like if you have to sue somebody, where are you going to be suing them? What jurisdiction are you going to be in? Then, within the terms and conditions, we have your privacy policy. So, if you have UK clients, you have to have it. If you have California clients, we just enacted a law not too long ago saying we have to have privacy policies. So, those are the big two.

Then, we have other things that are going to fall into place. So, if you have a course, say your course is hosted on Podia or whatever, Teachable, whatever platform, you can have terms and conditions just for the course that you're selling. Then, you can have terms and conditions if you have a membership because just things are so different with all of these different products that you're selling. So, there's that, and then we have our legal disclaimers. Say you're a health coach. You want to make sure that it is not seen as medical advice, so big one. So, there's different ones with that. Do you have affiliates? Are you an affiliate? Are you having affiliate links on your website? Again, affiliate disclaimers. If you are a blogger, do you have sponsorships? These are all things that I don't think people realize come until they get in trouble for it. We don't want that. We want you to have it all in place from the beginning.

Salome Schillack (10:40):

Yeah. Is it hard to get it in place?

Michelle Murphy (10:41):

I don't think it's that ... It's hard because you may not understand the language. That's the hard part.

Salome Schillack (10:48):

That's intimidating.

Michelle Murphy (10:50):

Yeah, and it's intimidating. It is because you're like, "I'm just going to copy Amy Porterfield's terms and conditions. Well, what she's selling may not be what you're selling. How she wants things done may not be how you want things done. So, you have to look at whatever you're selling, however your website is as a whole, and then from there, try to figure out what rules do you want in place. I think that's where people really get tripped up because it's not a copy and paste. Everyone's business is different.

Salome Schillack (11:22):

Correct. Yes, but people can work with people like you where you understand our industry well enough that you can create these things fairly easily, and I want to say not as expensive as it would be for me to go to the local lawyer on the corner of here in Brisbane who doesn't understand things and is going to charge me thousands and thousands of dollars because they're going to have to go and research it, and they're probably going to give me the wrong advice anyway because they don't understand my business model.

Michelle Murphy (11:55):

Exactly. Exactly.

Salome Schillack (11:56):

Yeah, and I use that as an example because that actually literally happened to me. I'm so glad you said those privacy policies because everyone who runs Facebook ads has to have privacy policies linked and terms and conditions linked on your landing page, so it's not just if you're marketing in the UK or in California.

Michelle Murphy (12:17):

Nope.

Salome Schillack (12:18):

Just do it. You're going to need-

Michelle Murphy (12:20):

If you're collecting credit cards, you need them. Email addresses. Just have it. I mean, just have it just in ... There's nothing wrong with having it. It's preferable to have them been not to have them.

Salome Schillack (12:31):

Yeah, and then I want to emphasize what you said about finding contracts that works for you. Initially, when I started my business, I also kind of copy and pasted contracts that I got from other people or that was ... You sign up for a program, and we'll give you this template for this and that template for that, and it wasn't until I read the terms and conditions for a client contract and read there that should this ever go to litigation, then the litigation is subject to California law and will happen in California. I'm like ... You know when you go record scratch like [inaudible 00:13:08]. "Wait a second. My contract is saying that if you sue me, I have to travel to California?"

Michelle Murphy (13:16):

Yes.

Salome Schillack (13:18):

I instantly changed that, so now, anybody who has any legal issues with me need to come here. Then, funny enough, when COVID happened, I had a client challenged that and said, "Well ..." It doesn't often happen that clients challenge contracts, but when that person challenged it, she said, "Well, hold on. We can have a lawyer change that to say mitigation will happen online." Mitigation, is that the right word?

Michelle Murphy (13:46):

Mediation. It's basically ... Yeah.

Salome Schillack (13:48):

The mediation. Yeah. Mediation will happen ... I was like, "Oh, yeah. We can do that." So, now, that's the new contract. So, it's important to get these pieces of advice and not avoid it.

Michelle Murphy (13:59):

Right. That's the thing. A lot of people avoid it because they are intimidated by it. I mean, that's me naturally. Anything that I'm intimidated by, I'm just like, okay, it goes on to the bottom of my to-do list. It just keeps dropping and dropping and dropping until something happens.

Salome Schillack (14:18):

I feel like with contracts, it's not just the intimidation that can be challenging, but it's also, I have heard people say they would rather change their tires on their cars than learn Facebook ads and-

Michelle Murphy (14:31):

That's me right now. That is me right now.I'm just like, "Oh, my God. No. I cannot do this."

Salome Schillack (14:40):

So, you need to take some advice from the students that you tell to come to you for legal advice and get some help with your ads.

Michelle Murphy (14:47):

Yes.

Salome Schillack (14:47):

I think it's kind of the sense of grudge purchase. Sometimes, it can be. Yeah, but it doesn't have to be. It can be very easy. Talk to me a little bit about what should someone do when a student or a non-student, but let's go with a student because this is the case that I saw recently in a Facebook group ... Someone said one of their students literally ripped off everything they created. What are the different scenarios, and what can you do when that happens?

Michelle Murphy (15:20):

So, normally, that falls into copyright law. I absolutely recommend ... Well, in the U.S., we have the U.S. Copyright Office, so you go to them. You can go online. You register your course or ebook, whatever you have. Once that happens, you can sue somebody in federal court if they do infringe on your copyright but-

Salome Schillack (15:47):

So, hang on. You have to register your course as ... Isn't copyright implied?

Michelle Murphy (15:54):

So, it is implied but to actually get anything from it, so to sue, you have to register it first.

Salome Schillack (16:03):

Really? I did not know that. I'll be registering my copyright with you tomorrow. Really? I did not know that.

Michelle Murphy (16:11):

Yes.

Salome Schillack (16:12):

So, what if you sell it in different countries? Do you have to register it in all the countries?

Michelle Murphy (16:17):

I would presume so, but I'm not as well versed in copyright as I am in trademark but-

Salome Schillack (16:24):

Okay. What's the difference?

Michelle Murphy (16:26):

So, copyrights are your bigger pieces of work, so books, sculptures, paintings, music, plays, just that type of stuff. Trademarks are really just brand identifiers, so logos, names, slogans, colors, smells, sounds, anything that when you immediately see it, you know this is the brand that's behind it.

Salome Schillack (16:51):

Like The Launch Lounge.

Michelle Murphy (16:53):

Yes.

Salome Schillack (16:55):

... which we just got trademarked. We got the certificate today.

Michelle Murphy (17:00):

Yep.

Salome Schillack (17:01):

So cool. Okay, so back to copyrights. So, you need to register your copyright before you have a legal leg to stand on if someone copies you?

Michelle Murphy (17:11):

Yes.

Salome Schillack (17:12):

Oh, my goodness. Okay, so what if you didn't?

Michelle Murphy (17:15):

So, if you don't, you would have to register it first, and then you can sue, but you're not going to get some of the damages that you would have had if you had it already in place.

Salome Schillack (17:26):

Okay. So, let's say you did have it in place. You sue them. What are we talking in terms of damages? How do they determine damages?

Michelle Murphy (17:36):

So, there's a couple of different ways, and don't quote me on this, but there's a ... I think you can calculate. You can get an actuary to calculate, or I'm pretty sure they have kind of like a percentage type situation if that's what you want to

Salome Schillack (17:36):

Oh, right.

Michelle Murphy (17:54):

... or if you have all your receipts and stuff, they'll calculate it from that.

Salome Schillack (17:59):

Right. What do you do if you just want the person to stop? You don't necessarily want to sue them. You don't want to go down the drain. You don't really care to get money back from what they sold. You just want them to stop.

Michelle Murphy (18:10):

So, cease and desist letters.

Salome Schillack (18:12):

Oh, and that's just something you call up your local lawyer, and you're like, "Dude, get this person to stop"?

Michelle Murphy (18:17):

You're right.

Salome Schillack (18:18):

Do you have to prove anything that they are stealing from you?

Michelle Murphy (18:23):

So, with the cease and desist, you don't, but you want to have something like just a little bit because if you do have to go to court, that's when you pile it on, but you at least want to have some type of proof so that they know that you're not bluffing.

Salome Schillack (18:38):

Yeah. Okay. Do they have to have it all published and be selling it before you can send them a cease and desist? Because what I heard recently in a group, I heard someone say a competitor signed up for their course and is downloading everything. How do they treat them? What do they do, and how can they stop them?

Michelle Murphy (19:01):

So, in that case, you don't know ... They're not really doing anything with it yet, so you can't really ... You can't justify it at that point. It's when it's out that you can-

Salome Schillack (19:14):

Okay, so that's not a legal issue. That's just someone else checking out the competition, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Michelle Murphy (19:20):

Right. Right.

Salome Schillack (19:21):

Although I don't encourage that. Don't do that.

Michelle Murphy (19:22):

No. Don't do that.

Salome Schillack (19:23):

Just stay in your lane.

Michelle Murphy (19:24):

Yeah.

Salome Schillack (19:25):

Okay. Let's talk about trademarks. Why is it important for online course creators to trademark their courses and their brands?

Michelle Murphy (19:35):

So, I mean, you're in Australia, and you found me on Instagram. This is pretty much where we are at this point. We are global, and so obviously, we have access ... Everything's at our fingertips. So, if somebody Googles something, you don't want your competitor to ... and they do this. They do this all the time with Google ads. You don't want your competitor to be able to steal from you. So, it's just really important to get all of those ducks in a row. I don't think there's anything illegal about hopping up with your ads, but it is illegal to pretend to be that person and to redirect their traffic and all that type of stuff, pretending that it's them.

Salome Schillack (20:24):

That's interesting because I am so glad you brought this up because I never thought about this in terms of online courses, but I have a friend who has an e-commerce business, and she sells play mats for babies and has a brand name, a well-known brand name. When you Google her brand name, the first thing that comes up is a Google ad for her competition.

Michelle Murphy (20:50):

Yeah. They do that a lot.

Salome Schillack (20:53):

So, are you saying that if she tried marks her name, they won't be able to do that, to use her brand name as a keyword for Google ads?

Michelle Murphy (21:04):

So, I'm not sure because that's more behind the scenes. I mean, I see it all the time even with ClickFunnels. The different competitors will pop up even though I put in ClickFunnels, so I don't know. I don't think that's illegal, but what's going to be ... Using the keyword is not what's illegal but maybe having a link that says her brand name because people are going to think it's her. That-

Salome Schillack (21:32):

Oh, that's fascinating.

Michelle Murphy (21:33):

You're bordering on something not ... You're not doing something right.

Salome Schillack (21:39):

Yes. Yes. Okay. So, online courses, so why do we want to trademark our online courses?

Michelle Murphy (21:47):

So that your customers know that you are the person selling the course. They're following you. They like ... I mean, obviously, know like, and trust. Most of the time, these people have been following you for a long time, so they feel like they've gotten to know you, and they want to support your business. They don't want to support Susie Q. who maybe has a name that's really similar to yours. So, it's just really important just to, for your sake, to have all of your stuff trademarked because somebody can just come in behind you and either trademark the name, and then that's a whole another thing that you have to deal with because now, you're-

Salome Schillack (22:30):

Because then, you have to change the name.

Michelle Murphy (22:31):

Either you have to change your name or you have to go through cancellation procedures and trying to get them to change their name. You have to still register. It becomes a lot, so it's just best to try and get it done as soon as possible if you can especially if you know you're not going to change the name. I don't recommend doing it if you're on the fence about whatever name you've chosen, but if you're like, "This is the name. This is the name I want. I'm not changing this name," then I recommend at that point, yeah.

Salome Schillack (23:08):

I think it's important to add in here that you don't register a trademark that you haven't sold effectively and efficiently a few times. That's a bit like ... What's the expression? Putting the horse, the cart before the horse?

Michelle Murphy (23:24):

The cart before the horse.

Salome Schillack (23:25):

Yeah. Sell your course first to prove that it does sell and that there is value in-

Michelle Murphy (23:31):

Viability.

Salome Schillack (23:32):

Yeah, viability and then go, "Okay, now let's protect this name." What criteria does a name have to live up to, to be trademarked?

Michelle Murphy (23:43):

So, there's these different tiers. So, the best is going to be fanciful trademarks. These are just names that are made up. Google, Nike. Not made up, but they're just not common words, and then we have arbitrary trademarks. These are trademarks that they're a word, they're a common word, but you use it for something else. So, Apple Computers, that type of thing. Then, underneath that, we have suggestive trademarks. These are names that are like you have to think about it to ... like word association, so Netflix, movies that they sell on it. Well, at first, it was movies on the internet, so that's like the hierarchy of what you want your name to be.

So, with The Launch Lounge, launch, we couldn't trademark ... That part of the trademark is not ... Other people can use it, but if they use Launch Lounge together because lounge has ... That is just a word that just does not have anything to do with what your course is about. If they try to use that, they can't get away with it, but if somebody has something like The Launch Candle or something, whatever.

Salome Schillack (24:58):

Yeah. Then, they can use that.

Michelle Murphy (25:00):

Yeah.

Salome Schillack (25:01):

Yeah. Okay, great. So, when would something like that ... Let me use this example. Let's say we want to trademark A-Lister. I mean, there must be at least a thousand courses called A-Lister.

Michelle Murphy (25:16):

Right.

Salome Schillack (25:16):

It's not exactly my most original idea. So, what are the kind of challenges that one might run into trying to register a trademark that is already quite common?

Michelle Murphy (25:28):

So, either it's already trademarked potentially, so that's why we do those trademark searches at the beginning to see what's out there. Then, we also have the other dynamic, which if it's not a registered trademark, within what you're selling, so if A-Lister is registered as a bakery, you don't have to worry about it. Totally different service than what you're selling, but if there's already an A-Lister in the class that you're selling under, which is the category of goods or services that you're selling under, then that becomes a problem. You're likely not going to get it through. You're probably going to either get an office action ... Well, you're likely to get an office action or if you don't, if you're able to pass through it, that company may come in and try to oppose your trademark anyway. So, that's one issue.

Then, on the other side is, okay, even if you're able to get it trademarked and go through, there's common law. That just means that somebody's been using the name for forever, but they had decided not to register the trademark for it. If they see that you've registered the trademark for it, they may be like, "Well, I want it instead. So, now, I'm going to cancel your trademark," and they have five years to cancel the trademark so, yeah.

Salome Schillack (26:48):

Wow. So, talk to me about the categories. What type of categories? Let's say there's a, like you just say, let's say there's a health coach, and then there's a sports team or a sports motivational speaker type thing, and then there's a bakery called A-Lister. What category? Can I say, "Well, I want to own the Facebook ads category," or is that not a category? What are these categories?

Michelle Murphy (27:19):

So, there's 45 of them that you can file under, and so if there was a health coach, there's a bakery and then there's a motivational speaker, so let's put all those out there. If the health coach is literally just coaching on health, on health subjects and nothing else, then she's not a speaker, she doesn't do motivational speech. She doesn't do anything but maybe has an online course on health, in health and wellness or something. Then, she can be in there, and likely, the motivational speaker, which will probably be in the same class as her or the same category as her, they can probably co-exist because their services are different. People are not going to confuse them. Then, obviously, the baker-

Salome Schillack (28:07):

They could both own a trademark?

Michelle Murphy (28:09):

They can both own the same trademark. Yeah. You can coexist even within the same category because some classes ... or I should say class, not category, but some classes just are so wide that they ... Class 35 is, it's ridiculous. Class 41 too. I mean, there's just so many things that you can stick into those two that normally, the services are just totally unrelated. They are able to co-exist.

Salome Schillack (28:37):

Do we fall in one of those two? It's like online education. I mean, it is as broad as daylight.

Michelle Murphy (28:42):

Yes, online education. Yeah, exactly. Class 41 is online education, and it is like ... It's really the free for all for courses in online education. It really is.

Salome Schillack (28:55):

So, it becomes a case of the riches is in the niches again like-

Michelle Murphy (28:59):

Right, exactly.

If you're not vague in what you do, if you're very specific in what you do, then you can trademark your course, and you can co-exist with someone else who has the trademark in the same category but does something completely different. Fascinating. There's hope for A-Lister yet. Okay. So, tell us a little bit about the process you have to go through because I remember when I started looking into this, I kind of did my amateur Google trademark search, which I think you giggled a little bit at my sleuth skills, and I found out that there was a trademark registered for The Launch Lounge in the UK, but I think it had lapsed or something. Then, I found that there was the same company had the same trademark registered in Australia, New Zealand, but again, it had lapsed. This same company had it in America, but American law is different, so in America, it had completely lapsed.

Salome Schillack (30:02):

Right.

Michelle Murphy (30:02):

While it was still kind of in this holding pattern in the UK and in Australia, it was free for all in America, but I had to go through this process to go, "Well, I can't even find this company. The company doesn't exist anymore. The company's gone. The trademark has lapsed, but it's still in this holding pattern. I can't do anything with it. I need someone in America to do this for me." The Australian lawyers told me only once it comes out of this holding pattern, can I register it in Australia and the fact that I have it in America doesn't protect me in Australia. So, talk to me a little bit about this whole process of how do you go about trademarking your course. What's that step one, two and three, and how does different countries ... because we sell online. I mean-

Salome Schillack (30:51):

Yeah, exactly. The law has not caught up with it, so this whole process, as you know, takes nine to 12 months, if not longer. I mean, right now, it's taking even longer. There was an unprecedented amount of trademark applications that were filed in 2020. So, they are swamped, but normally, it's nine to 12 months. Step one, we do a trademark search. So, we just scour the internet and see what's out there, see what is happening. So, then I analyze the documents, and I let you know. Here's what I found. Here's what I'm thinking may happen once it goes to the trademark office. So, then, from there, I fill out the application. I send it over to the client to make sure that I didn't miss anything, and then we file it, and then we wait. It takes about three months to get to the trademark examiner.

If they find an issue, they are going to issue what's called an office action. So, there's minor office actions that are like, "Well, we need you to disclaim this word," which is what we had to do with your application with the launch section of it, or it's like, "We can't register this because there's already somebody out here with his name," so you need to argue why you should be able to register your trademark even though they have the same or similar name to yours.

So, once you overcome any office actions that do happen, then we go on to publication. So, once it's published, 30 days. It's published for 30 days. Anybody that is a registered trademark owner or anybody that just feels like they don't want you to trademark the name, they can come in and try to oppose your trademark. If there are no oppositions, then it just goes on, and it takes about 11 weeks after that to get the certificate so ...

Yeah. Great. Let's talk for a second. I mean, it feels like forever, but it feels great to be like, "Yeah, I got my certificate. I'm official." It does feel good. That search that you did originally, so I've told you that I did my little amateur Google search, but I want you to just expand a little bit on the Google search I did versus the proper search you did because it's not the same thing.

Michelle Murphy (33:17):

No, it's not. So, the search that I do, I use a program, and it literally goes through federally registered trademarks. It goes through all the states in the United States, but if there's other place that you want to file your trademark, it'll go through those too, but it goes through all the states and their databases to see if there's an LLC or a corporation that is even similar to the name. Then, they'll go through YouTube. It'll go through all the social media channels to see what's out there, and it also ... Is there another one? Website domain names. It'll go through those to see if there's something similar. Similar isn't the exact match. Similar can be The Lounge Launch. That is, to them, similar in the trademark world and even just a spelling. Maybe you spelled it, if it was like The Lanch Lounge. That's similar. So, it just gives all that paperwork. I mean, it can be up to a thousand pages, if not more depending-

Salome Schillack (34:20):

Yeah. It was a hefty read. It was very interesting for me because you send a list of everything that is registered in that class, and I was like saying, "Oh, I didn't know that person has that thing registered, and that person has this registered." It's very interesting to see what everyone has registered.

Michelle Murphy (34:46):

Right.

Salome Schillack (34:46):

Okay. So, now, we know the process, and we know how long it takes. If anybody wants to learn more about working with you to protect their online business, where can they go? Where can they find you?

Michelle Murphy (35:03):

I'm everywhere. I'm honestly in too many places at this point. So, you can find me on Instagram at thetrademarkattorney_. You can find me on TikTok at thetrademarkattorney. You can find me on Facebook, facebook.com/wilsonmurphylaw, and then obviously, my website, www.wilsonmurphylaw.com. Then, on top of that, I have my other business, which is more legal education for small business owners, and that's The CEO Legal Loft. You can go to www.theceolegalloft.com for that stuff, so I am-

Salome Schillack (35:39):

What do you teach there? I didn't even know about that one.

Michelle Murphy (35:39):

Oh, sure.

Salome Schillack (35:41):

We'll link all of these up in the show notes. What do you teach there?

Michelle Murphy (35:44):

So, I have a legal membership, and it's all the contracts that you need for your business and then-

Salome Schillack (35:50):

There you go.

Michelle Murphy (35:52):

Contract templates, all that type of stuff, and then I have a trademark course too, so if maybe you cannot quite afford one-on-one services, I have a course for that, so it's where I teach you the-

Salome Schillack (36:05):

Can you repeat that website?

Michelle Murphy (36:16):

Www.theceolegalloft.com.

Salome Schillack (36:16):

I love it. All right. So, everyone, go to Michelle's Instagram to check out her funky videos, and then go to that website to learn from Michelle how to protect yourself legally in your business. Michelle, it's been so nice talking to you. Thank you so much for ... You've really, really taken a topic that I've had very a lot of pain over, and talking to lawyers is painful. I will tell you. It's like the only people I struggle to talk with more than lawyers is accountants but-

Michelle Murphy (36:53):

Me too. I struggle with accountants. I'm just like [inaudible 00:36:53].

Salome Schillack (36:53):

Yes. So, you have made it fun, and you have just spoken proper language that I can understand, and throwing in a few fun videos about handbags and dress ups always helps. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and for all the wonderful things that you've done for me. I appreciate you.

Michelle Murphy (37:15):

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Salome Schillack (37:16):

Don't forget to rate and review the podcast, and send me that screenshot of your review so that I know who to thank for that wonderful review you are going to leave, which will also put you in the running to win that two and a half hour launch or business strategy session with me where you will walk away with actionable steps for what to do next to create your profitable online course or scale your online course business. So, go and rate and review the podcast. Send me your screenshot, and then watch this space as we get closer to episode 100 where I will announce the winner. Have a lovely, lovely week. Bye. Thank you so much for listening. If you had fun, please come back next week, and remember to hit that Subscribe button, so you never miss a thing.