Big, established companies throw their legal weight around all the time. But, unfortunately, that often means that new and small companies face severe disadvantages if they don’t take steps to deal with the facts of the competitive environment we find ourselves in.

We’ve helped hundreds of creative businesses grow, so I know first-hand how creatives can shift things in their favor – if they choose to do so.

But many business owners choose to play at a disadvantage because they don’t take the time to understand the rules. And big companies are well aware of that and are happy to take and keep more of the market.

However, suppose you want to build something that makes an impact. In that case, you must know how to protect yourself against much bigger players – and even learn to thrive in a sometimes-hostile environment.

Know that law can be a money game – and you can learn to play.

In law, it often comes down to money. 

That might sound cynical, but the sooner you accept that the sooner you can learn to work around that reality.

I’m telling you that law is a money game because I want you to tilt the playing field in your favor as much as possible and as early as possible. Even if you’re dealing with a well-funded and established adversary like a large corporation, you can change the incentives and become a more challenging target.

I know because I’ve spent the last decade helping creatives do just this – and I have seen how radically outcomes change when someone has taken steps to understand the game and use the rules to their advantage.

I’m not saying it’s right or good that business law is a money game, just that it IS, and you can learn how to play.

Here are some moves to make if you want to operate at a high level without getting rocked by big businesses.

Protect your brand from getting stomped by a more prominent brand.

I can tell you from experience that if you try to build a brand containing the word “ERA,” you will hear from the attorneys for New Era. I’ve seen it happen to multiple people. 

Same deal if you’re building a brand that contains part of another famous brand. 

Even if their legal case isn’t 100% solid, they are on the lookout for anyone getting too close to their brand, and they will stop them.

The easy move here is to clear your brand upfront to avoid awkward conversations later – and then register your trademark. However, if you care about your brand and want to invest in it long-term, you must do these things. 

I’ve heard many stories of small brand owners who spend years building their brands only for a well-funded celebrity or influencer to come along and copy them. Those with registrations solve the problem quickly….and those without have to rebrand.

Use contracts to advocate for yourself.

I’ve helped many creators do deals with large companies, and the best thing that you can do here is understand the contracts.

And the second thing you can do is understand that these contracts are often malleable

Large companies won’t hesitate to use their negotiating power and expect that you have counsel to help you look after your interests. Their lawyer is looking out for their interests, and at that level, they expect you to do the same.

Looking out for your interests means that you can often negotiate better deals if you ask, and it also means not agreeing to something that harms your company later. 

Protect your copyright to keep yourself and other artists from getting ripped off.

I’ve seen many stories of indie creators ripped off by large retailers. 

And I have a theory that these large retailers rip off small creators because they know that – despite any ensuing social media drama and outrage – they won’t have to pay the artist out a ton of money to settle things.

Most artists don’t take the most basic steps to protect their work. This not only allows them to get ripped off by large companies but also creates a culture where large companies stand to profit easily by ripping off artists who don’t protect themselves.

The most straightforward step is to register your copyright

I’ve seen that the artists who do this can stop the rip-off quickly, and I know many artists who have walked away with significant (and game-changing) checks when they have taken steps to register their copyrights.

It’s not theoretical – and companies treat those with registered copyrights WAY differently than those without. Registered copyrights give artists teeth, and big companies know that.

You can play the game – and win!

I want all of this to be empowering for you

You can learn to play the game, just like so many other creative business owners have. Take the steps discussed above – protecting your brand, using contracts to advocate for yourself, and protecting your creative work – and you will be well on the path.

We’re here if you need support.

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