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Episode 179 | Legal Mistakes You Might Be Making with Maria Spear Ollis

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Set Yourself Up for Growth!

Marie Spear Ollis joins Bree for a conversation on legal mistakes you might be making on social media and your blog! Marie is a lawyer who helps content creators and online businesses protect their brand names and content from copycats, get the contracts they need, and do business online legally! This is a must-read for bloggers and content creators. 

Legal Mistakes You Might Be Making

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"A lot of people think you have to have a registered trademark to use the TM symbol. You can use the TM symbol with an unregistered trademark and that just kind of puts people on notice like, "Hey, this is my trademark". And also, a lot of people don't know the difference between TM and ®, so they think "oh, she's got a registration. You know, hands off." The ® is only for registered trademarks, but the TM you can use on an unregistered trademark."

Discussed in this episode...

Legal Mistakes Bloggers Make on Social Media

The first thing from Maria has to do with sponsored posts and using the music available to you on TikTok and Instagram. On Instagram, there are business accounts and creator accounts, and there is a lot of music that is not available to the business accounts. That's because many of the artists do not want their music used in a commercial or advertising way. If you're posting fun videos or informational ones, then it's totally fine to use them. But when you're doing a sponsored post or an ad, it's important to be cautious with the music you're using.

Another issue that Maria is seeing is regarding disclosures. Here again, if you're partnering with a brand on a sponsored post you need to be mindful. It's super important to disclose that when you're posting an ad.

Legal Mistakes Bloggers Make with Their Websites

On their websites, the first mistake Maria sees is that bloggers aren't taking advantage of some free things that they can do to boost protection on their websites! The first thing is adding the 'TM' symbol to either the banner image, or the heading, or wherever your brand name is. A lot of people think you have to have a registered trademark to use the TM symbol, which is not the case! You can go ahead and use it with an unregistered trademark and will just kind of put people on notice.

How Can We Protect Our Brands?

Definitely place protections on your website! Make sure you have your privacy policy and disclaimers in place.

If you're working with someone, whether it's someone who is creating your logo, or a photographer taking pictures for you, you need to know who owns the rights to that. So if you're purchasing the logo, or images, or intellectual property of any kind, you need to make sure you have in writing somewhere that you own the rights to that creative work.

Another thing is to make sure there's a written agreement for your affiliate arrangements. It doesn't have to be anything fancy! On a single document, that everyone involved signs, list what exactly you're providing, the timeframe you're providing things, and how payment works.

If you have a little more money to spend, then getting trademark protection for your brand name would be a great thing to invest in! A trademark registration for your brand name, which could be a personal name or something like Thrive, gives you protection throughout the United States. It puts people on notice and prevents someone else from trademarking or using it as well.


This podcast episode is sponsored by our favorite email marketing tool for bloggers; Flodesk! It's no secret that we are obsessed with Flodesk and it's for a lot of reasons!

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Also Discussed:
  • Ways to protect your intellectual property!
  • When do you actually want a copywrite?
  • Deal with copycats online (legally and mentally)
  • How to address brands using your images without permission

Resources Mentioned

More about Marie Spear Ollis:

Marie is a lawyer who helps content creators and online businesses protect their brand names and content from copycats, get the contracts they need, and do business online legally!

Find Marie on Instagram!


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