September 9, 2020

Understanding Trademarks & Copyrights for Your Online Business with Paula Yost

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Understanding Trademarks & Copyrights for Your Online Business with Paula Yost

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Two short weeks ago I shared about the moment I made a huge, unexpected pivot in my business and rebranded in less than 48 hours (learn all about that here).

Lesson learned, you don’t mess around when it comes to researching names for your business, podcast and programs. And even if you’ve think you’ve done your due diligence, if you don’t understand trademarks and statues and classes and *insert other legal mumbo jumbo here*, you’re most likely not protecting your intellectual property.

As an online business owner, you’ve got to cover your assets (namely, your content).

 That’s why I interviewed my newly acquired attorney and am sharing with you my missteps (hello unexpected cease and desist letter leading to a podcast show name revamp), so that you can learn from my mistakes and we can all do better at this whole online business thing.

 On this episode, attorney Paula Yost is answer these important questions:

  • What’s the difference between a Trademark, a copyright, and a patent?
  • What exactly should you trademark in your online business, your name? Logo? Tagline?
  • Is it possible you could be slapped with a Cease and Desist for your own name?
  • At what point should a business consider a registered trademark?
  • What are the most common mistakes that small business owners make with regards to their intellectual property?

 You can grab the full transcript here.

Episode Show Notes

What you need to know in protecting your intellectual property


(11:13) Patents are the most expensive form of intellectual property. Basically, a patent is on something that you have invented. It’s not on the name. It’s not in the instruction manual. It is on something that you have actually created.

(11:49) Filing them before the federal government is pricey. They expire and they are definitely absolutely not something you should do yourself. If you make the slightest mistake with a patent application, you’ve lost it, and you can’t get it back. With a patent, you definitely need to make sure that you have a qualified, licensed professional writing that for you, or you’re going to give your rights away, and you could well be giving away something that’s actually very valuable. That’s the most expensive.


(12:48) Trademarks are words. They’re also images or logos like the Nike swoosh. They’re also statement taglines. I guess you can theoretically do it yourself. 

(13:41) What happens with a lot of people is they’re okay with filing it themselves, but then after that, they don’t know what to do like then once you get into it when it gets assigned to a trademark examiner, then you just wind up getting lost. I’ve seen people think like, ‘Oh, my trademark got rejected,’ and that’s not totally not true. You just didn’t know how to respond to it.


(14:56) Copyright is the cheapest form of intellectual property. Honestly, you don’t need an attorney for that. A copyright is something you can do yourself if you’re a reasonably intelligent and technologically savvy person. You just need to go to

(15:28) You want to make sure you’re actually on the Library of Congress’ website. You can log in there, try to do it yourself, create a template. If you get stuck and you can’t do it, you can always circle back and hire an attorney to help you, but filing a copyright is really not that hard. Filing fees on a copywriter are around $55 to $65.

How to make sure you have proper copyright protection?

(17:07) Ensuring that something has proper copyright protection is that you federally file that application with the Library of Congress within 90 days of releasing that. 

When should you file a copyright – should you file it in every single thing that you do?

(18:38) For $65, is it worth it to you to make sure that thing is safe? If the answer to that is yes, spend $65 to copyright it, and if it gets edited and you make changes to it, just file it again, and pay the copyright fee again.

(19:46) I don’t think you need to do a copyright every time you sneeze, but I think you need to do a copyright if you’ve created something that is truly special.

What is the first step to trademarking in your business?

(23:24) Step one is to come up with a really good name [whether that’s for your business, programs or podcast]. Once you’ve got a really good name and you want to hold the online space, that’s when we file a trademark. 

Could someone serve a cease and desist letter on your own name?

(30:34) Yeah, they can as long as it is in the exact same industry.

(Paula goes into details about classes and industries that was super helpful, check that part out!)

When a business should think about doing a trademark?

(31:59) I think right now is always the right time to do it especially if you’re using it or if you’re thinking about using it, then yes, that’s important.

Mistakes we all make when it comes to naming things on from Google

(37:11) Honestly, you need to hire an attorney and ask an attorney, can I get a trademark on this? Is this brand safe? It is not enough to just simply do a Google search to try to find out because you cannot assure yourself that every person hasn’t filed a trademark under a different statute. You can’t assure yourself that it’s not out there, just because you can’t find it on the internet doesn’t mean it’s not federally protected. 

(40:40) The big thing about that that’s really important is you can get yourself into trademark infringement if you start using a brand that’s taken and you just don’t know that it’s taken, so it helps you avoid the cease and desist letter on the front end.

Trademark Classification

(46:11) The short, clean and dirty version of this is that classifications are how the government makes more money from you. The government has 45 classifications, and those classifications are a list of everything that’s covered under them. 

Links mentioned in episode:

Mastering Your Money with Guest Meg Wheeler – Ep #10

Unexpected Twist – 4 Secrets to Resiliency – Ep #52  

About my guest, Paula Yost

Paula is an attorney, licensed to practice law in North Carolina, Georgia, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  She’s passionate about protecting what is important to her clients. This includes everything from Trademark brand protection,  children, and an individual’s mental health. 

A large portion of Paula’s practice focuses on Trademark prosecution before the  United States Patent and Trademark Office . She successfully prosecuted hundreds of brands and  worked with Trademark applications for over a decade. 

In addition to her Trademark work, Paula has a love for what she would call legal social work. Any type of work where an individual’s mental well-being meets the law is an area where Paula can add value. In that role, she frequently works as a court appointed Guardian ad Litem for the mentally ill or those deemed potentially incompetent. She is available to represent families who may need to have a loved one declared incompetent. Her other practice areas include drafting estate plans, forming corporate entities, and  assisting clients with minor traffic infractions in Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, or Stanly Counties. 

You can learn more about Paula and schedule a consultation on her website or schedule a call to discuss your trademark questions by emailing or connecting on Instagram @countrylawshack.

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