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SPI 796: Don’t Skip These Legal Tips from Yasmine Salem Hamdan—SPI Pro Expert In Residence

The legal ins and outs of running a business are a mystery to most beginner entrepreneurs. Fearing a huge bill, we don’t reach out to a professional who could help protect us from the start.

But here’s the thing: doing damage control is always more expensive than being proactive! In fact, this upfront investment is a tiny fraction of what it would cost to clean up a big mess later on.

So where should you go to get legal advice for your business? Also, as online creators, can we find and use contract templates for most of what we do?

Listen in on today’s episode because our newest SPI Pro Expert in Residence, Yasmine Salem Hamdan of Coaches & Company, is here to answer your most pressing legal questions!

If you don’t know, our Experts in Residence program is how we serve our community members with next-level knowledge and support. Our big-league experts have serious track records, so tune in for my chat with Yasmine to learn more!

You’ll hear us uncover a three-part framework to establish a legal foundation for your brand. We also explore trademarking, copyrighting, contracts, and the implications of AI-generated content.

Yasmine is a master communicator who makes these scary topics fun and easy to understand. Enjoy!

Today’s Guest

Yasmine Salem Hamdan

Yasmine Salem Hamdan is a dynamic entrepreneur, business lawyer, and brand consultant. As the founder of Coaches & Company, she’s committed to modernizing legal education and protection for online businesses, offering accessible solutions and contracts to secure entrepreneurs’ online ventures and financial futures without hefty law firm fees.

Yasmine’s innovative approach has earned recognition from esteemed platforms like Entrepreneur magazine, Forbes, Thinkific, and Dallas Startup Week. Additionally, she’s the driving force behind the Crème de la Crème Business Network, empowering professional women with curated networking opportunities and resources.

You’ll Learn


SPI 796: Don’t Skip These Legal Tips from Yasmine Salem Hamdan—SPI Pro Expert In Residence

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: A lot of people are scared of a huge legal bill, which is totally understandable. Even as an attorney, I’m like, I really don’t want to have to pay my lawyer to clean up a mess. And it’s always more expensive to do that damage control and clean up the mess, which is why I encourage that proactive action. Earlier, the better in your business, so that you’re not having to do that damage control. It’s always more expensive. It’s always more time consuming. Being proactive, you know, might require a bit of an investment of your resources, but it’s a tiny fraction of what would be required if you were having to come back around and, you know, and clean up that mess later on.

Pat Flynn: Have you ever met somebody and after chatting with them, you begin to understand that you wish you met with them a long time ago. Like, wow, I could have saved so much time, so much money, and just a lot of headache. And that’s exactly how I felt after talking today with Yasmine Salem Hamdan, who you can find at And the reason why I said what I just said is because she is in the world of attorneys, and legal, intellectual property, trademarks, copyright, and all the things that I didn’t know anything about. In fact, I probably purposefully avoided learning about those things because they sounded big and scary.

But I now understand, you know, almost 20 years later, that that stuff’s kind of important. And if only I’d met her a long time ago when I had gotten cease and desist letters, thought I was getting sued, all these kinds of things. I would have had much more peace of mind and I love Yasmin’s approach with being proactive about this stuff a little bit of investment in time and a little bit of investment in money can save you a lot of time down the road, give you a lot of peace of mind and also save you from potentially, you know, your business going downhill or something even worse.

So, let’s chat with Yasmine Salem Hamdan. You can find her again at coachesandcompany. com. And I’m proud to say that she is one of our brand new EIRs inside of SPI Pro, our experts in residence. And it is so key. It is so perfect that we have a legal person in there that the SPI Pro members can get access to, to ask questions, to get some help from and all those great things. So let’s get to know Yasmine and let’s learn some stuff about the legal parts of running our business, especially if you’re just starting out. Here we go.

Announcer: You’re listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network, a show that’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later.

Pat Flynn: Yasmin, welcome to the podcast. Thank you so much for taking the time today.

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: Hey Pat, thanks for having me.

Pat Flynn: We’ve had attorneys here on the show before, but what I’m most excited about here is that you’ve been able to, in the small period of time that I’ve gotten to know you, especially on our live streams for SPI Pro recently, you break things down so easily for us, and I think that is just a hugely valuable skill in today’s world. So I just wanted to compliment you and maybe I’m like setting you up to, you know, for like, okay, let’s see if that’s actually the case here for, for people at the end. But you do do a good job of that because legal and law related things are, are very scary. How did you even get into law and being an attorney and was of always of interest to you, or where did this come from?

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: Well, first, let me thank you. So I appreciate that. And that is something that I have been working on since the beginning of my career is communicating legal concepts and legal principles in a way that actually makes sense and is within context, depending on, you know, whether it be what if we’re talking about within the context of a business, within the context of a family, within the context of society, you know, there, of course, the law affects everything, but I have been focused on business and entrepreneurs and supporting business owners and protecting themselves legally and understanding the legal stuff, which I know is not exactly the most, you know, and we talked a little about, most exciting. It’s not the most interesting, but it is very necessary if you intend to build a business that’s both profitable and sustainable over the long term, which, you know, I think it’s safe to say most people are trying to do that. We’re not trying to, you know, have a one hit wonder of a business that does great for six months and then, you know, you know, it’s gone game over instead.

It’s I want something that I can sustain over the long term and legal is an important part of that. It comes with the territory. It’s not a matter of if you’re going to face something related to the legal side of your business, but a matter of when. And my goal for everyone is. to be prepared when those situations come up instead of rushing into a panic, not sure of how to proceed.

You’re you don’t have any context or knowledge of, you know, the foundational legal principles of being a business owner. And I’m, you know, a big believer in that you shouldn’t have to go to law school or have to read the confusing legalese of the law, which is a whole other soapbox that I’m happy to step on to later.

But you know, legal stuff is historically not very accessible to the majority of people. So I have been, working on it over the years, trying to improve on my delivery of this information and also working with clients to better understand the nuances of business ownership. And especially today in the digital age, which we kind of geeked out a little bit on it yesterday, but we’re living in such a very cool time in terms of accessibility to doing business and engaging in commercial activity, building a brand, developing intellectual property assets, all thanks to this big, beautiful internet.

Pat Flynn: How does one change their mindset around the legal stuff to not like wake up in the morning and get all jazzed about it, but rather like how to approach it.

A lot of us just completely avoid it because it’s scary or they might say that will never happen to me. But I know that you take more of a proactive approach to this. What are the mindset shifts that we, as business owners, Should develop or have as we build our business with relation to all this.

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: Yeah, I would say it’s very important in the early stages of your business.

And when we’re in the early stages of our business, most people would agree that it’s kind of a, I don’t exactly know what I don’t know type situation. So my advice to you is to find a person that can provide guidance. And thankfully there are people called attorneys also known as lawyers that exist in the world and many of them specialized in different areas of law. And there are attorneys that specialize in business and focus on business and intellectual property. So I’m a firm believer in that every business owner should have an attorney, that’s their right hand, somebody that you have at least one initial consultation with in the first year of your business, just to share with them what you’re planning to do.

The different, you know, commercial activity you intend to engage in and allow them to help you issue spot and figure out, okay, what are some things that you’ll want to have on your radar? Where might you need to have a written agreement in place with this client or this employee or this contractor or this business partner, and how can we really be proactive in getting those contracts in place, identifying the different intellectual property assets we’re creating?

And I’m happy to talk more about IP. I know that some people hear IP and they’re like, I don’t know what in the world that is, and that’s totally okay. And understandable. It can be a little confusing, but I’ve seen. It time and time again, the entrepreneurs are capable of grasping these concepts and and implementing, you know, pretty basic business practices just early on in their business journey.

So I guess my in terms of shifting your perspective, you know, this is something that you’re totally capable of doing. It’s within reach. You’re there are resources available to you and you’re able to take action to do this. It just requires some intentionality, a little bit of time, a little bit of money, and that’s okay.

It’s not something to, you know, be afraid of a lot of people are scared of a huge legal bill, too, which is totally understandable. I’ve had to hire lawyers over, you know, the course of my life for various reasons and, and even as an attorney, I’m like, I really don’t want to have to pay my lawyer to clean up a mess.

And it’s always more expensive to do that damage control and clean up the mess, which is why I encourage that proactive action earlier, the better in your business so that you’re not having to do that damage control. It’s always more expensive. It’s always more time consuming being proactive, you know, might require a bit of an investment of your resources, but it’s a tiny fraction of what would be required if you were having to come back around and, you know, and clean up that mess later on.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, I mean, I’ve had my fair share of messes to clean up. I almost quit because of it. I was using a trademark and a domain name. And again, I didn’t know what I was doing. This was in 08 and there wasn’t even a lot of information or people out there talking about this and then I get a cease and desist letter and I had seven days or 14 days to fix it or else I’d, you know, further legal action would be taken. And just, I got scared so bad that I was just like, Nope, this isn’t for me. I’m going to go back to my nine to five. This is insane. And again, with just a little bit of prep or I would have loved somebody just go, okay, Pat, like, I know what we need to worry about here. The things and I see you’re using a trademark in your domain name. You might not want to do that. Like some of these things are now obvious looking back, but there are some not so obvious things that a person who is an expert could find. What are some other quote unquote things that are obvious to you that might not be obvious to us that are pretty common that people get into when it comes to legal things that we can kind of pay attention to and look out for and maybe get some further help about.

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: Well, I guess to simply answer your question as far as, you know, what are some common things that some people experience that maybe a more experienced entrepreneur or somebody familiar with the landscape of doing business would, you know, you sort of learn that lesson over time, but I would love for people to not have to learn all of the lessons the hard way.

I think there are some lessons you shouldn’t have to learn the hard way. So one thing is using the content that belongs to others in order to promote your own business. So this includes something as simple as pulling a photo off of Google and thinking that means that you can use that image on your website or on social media for promotional graphics, your podcast cover art, like any visual element just because you find it on Google and are able to download the file to your computer. It doesn’t mean you can upload it to another website and use it for your own commercial benefit. So that is a pretty common thing that I imagine you’ve probably run into on both sides as a, you know, a user of content and a content creator.

You probably experienced both sides of that, but it’s a fairly common one. And another one is, is what you mentioned around, you know, using a trademark. So using the name of your creating the name of your company or anytime you’re launching anything, if you’re deciding on the name of your podcast or the name of your YouTube channel, the name of your membership community, when you decide on that name, you are essentially a trademark.

And this is a kind of intellectual property asset, the name of your brand, what you’re using to identify the source of products or services that you sell. And so what a lot of people run into is they will decide on a name. They’ll think, okay, I love this name. It’s perfect. And then they maybe go to a social media platform and they see if the handle is available, maybe it’s available.

They secure it. And then they think, okay, well now I’m in business, you know, maybe they buy the domain name too. And they think they’re in business and all is well in the world. But not long after they may find themselves on the receiving end of a cease and desist letter, and it’s demanding that they stop using this brand name because somebody else already owns the rights to this trademark and the commercial rights to the use of it in connection with whatever it is that you’re selling.

And that’s another pretty common way to find yourself on, on the not so great end of an infringement situation, which I don’t know that either end is great, honestly, but maybe the worst one is being accused of committing trademark infringement. Yeah, I don’t know. They’re both pretty bad. You’ve probably experienced.

Pat Flynn: I have. Yeah, on both sides. I mean, a lot of people take our stuff and use it and kind of, you know, don’t give us credit or anything like that. But when I had a website about food trucks, I had hired an assistant somewhere else to help me with the blog content and they would pull images to use them and one of the images that they pulled was in fact from Google and I guess the company who owned that image found out that we were using it and I got a letter in the mail that said I owed 50,000 for using an image.

And I was like, again, freak out moment, right? Like, wait, what image? What? Oh my gosh, my assistant did this. And it’s like, okay, I could easily blame that person, but I also didn’t train them properly to go through that. I thought it was obvious, but it wasn’t. Working with the attorney I had at the time, we were able to negotiate it down to about a thousand dollars, right?

Like they go really high at first. And a lot of these companies are even, I mean, there’s some nasty stuff going on out there. I found out that this company in particular, this was, they were fishing for this kind of stuff from people like us who make these mistakes. And so you got to watch out for that too, which was unfortunate, but it was a big lesson.

And so now when I work with somebody who might be overseas, for example, here’s my account to, iStock photo, so, you know, you’re downloading royalty free images or something like that. Right. So that’s, that was a big lesson you’d mentioned again, this consultation cost or this consultation, the beginning of a person’s journey, what price range are we looking at for something like that to invest in, to kind of, once we got our system set up or maybe try to figure out, okay, this is exactly what our business is about, how much might it cost to find an attorney and, you know, obviously other than yourself, where might a person go and find a reliable attorney that’s not going to upcharge them for every whatever and kind of be like that mechanic who’s like, Hey, you got 35 things on your car that needs fixing, you know, like a legit attorney.

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: So, Oh my God, that’s the worst case scenario.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. I mean, that’s where our mind goes though.

Yeah. As you know, that we think about the worst case scenario and then we avoid everything.

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: A hundred percent. One hundred percent. So. I would say that the goal would be to have an attorney that’s in your jurisdiction. So depending on where you’re based in the U. S. or around the world, attorneys are licensed in the jurisdictions that they practice in.

And in the U. S., we have 50 different jurisdictions, which is kind of absurd to say out loud, I guess. I mean, every single state has its own business laws on the books. There are some laws that apply federally, including trademark law and copyright law and other intellectual property laws and some commercial laws, but every state has its own business laws on the books.

And, you know, depending on what industry you operate within, whether it’s business, finance, legal, sales and marketing, if you’re in, you know, health and wellness, there are possibly some regulations that apply to your industry in the way that you’re, you know, serving your clients or selling different products.

So it’s important that you have an attorney that’s in your jurisdiction, somebody that understands the law, where you live and where you’re doing business, because that’s the law that applies to your business activity. So that’s number one. So limit your search to your jurisdiction, ideally for best results, in my opinion, and what you can expect in terms of fee, I would say say you could expect for a consultation fee to be anywhere from 100 to 500. It could of course be more than 500, but the average small business attorney will offer an initial consultation and in my opinion should offer an initial consultation that’s under 500, which depending on where you are in your business and what you have available at the time might be a stretch, might be doable, but it’s been my experience that it’s well worth it in terms of the security and advantage that it gives you as the client and as the business owners to where you’re able to actually have some context within your business and understand, okay, I spoke with my attorney about this new offer that I’m developing and this way that I’m working with clients.

And, you know, we developed a plan for what policies will include in the contract in order to shield myself from X, Y, Z type of liability or in order to be proactive when it comes to payment plans that I’m offering my clients to ensure that or at least reduce the likelihood of some conflict related to payment with my clients, because that’s no fun.

That’s also a rite of passage of doing business. I know you’ve been there, Pat. I’ve been there too. And I think anybody who’s been in business for any period of time has also faced, you know, a conflict with a client related to payment. Maybe it’s a refund request. Maybe it’s a late payment situation. We can contract around those situations and we can create policies that create a roadmap for the client relationship to where we’re able to together refer to the contract that we both agreed to and signed to get clear on how we’re going to navigate various situations that come up.

And I’m sure you’ll agree that there are a number of different situations that can come up when you’re working one on one with a client and have obligations that go both ways. So it’s something to budget for. It’s certainly something I would, if you’re able to, you know, have a consultation with an attorney before you start your business, that’s great.

If you’re able to, you know, within the first few months of launching your business, that’s also really, really good. And I would encourage you to do that.

Pat Flynn: That price isn’t as scary as I think many people thought it was going to be. And it’s, it’s definitely a well worthwhile investment. I would imagine, especially with some of those more obvious things, like I said, if I had done that, I would have avoided a lot of stress and potentially just straight up giving up.

Thankfully, I had quickly found somebody to help me understand what was going on and realize that, okay, this wasn’t as bad as they made out to be or you’re making it out to be in a lot of these legal things are just really scary.

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: A lot of people are afraid of, you know, the having to have an attorney on retainer.

It’s like 5,000 up front or 10,000 to, you know, become a client. And yeah, there are some law firms that are like that for sure. But there are also a lot of law firms and attorneys that are, you know, they cater to the small business and they support the individual business owner and, you know, a retainer of tens of thousands of dollars is just not realistic.

So that’s something that when I started my law firm in 2016, I launched my own law practice focused on intellectual property law and supporting business owners. And that was one of the first things I decided was, okay, I, it’s clear to me, I was working at a firm prior to that. And it was clear to me that the types of clients we were serving were very different than the kinds of clients that I was aspiring to support. I was on social media as a consumer, and so I saw this was in 2013. I could see all of these brands begin to take shape and the intellectual property and content that they were publishing online.

And so the people I was talking to and having conversations with, it was clear that the firm I was at, we were serving very traditional types of businesses, you know, construction companies, salons and spas, restaurants, very, you know, local, traditional, very successful businesses. I mean, from where we were standing and we were supporting them in the activities that they had going on is it was clear they were thriving, but it was a different landscape.

I had my eye on the digital landscape, if you will, and the traditional law model just doesn’t work kind of like a lot of things that are a bit outdated now that there has been so much advancement in terms of technology and business and access to commercial activity,

Pat Flynn: let’s talk about protecting ourselves.

So as we were building our business, not only do we benefit from a consultation, just like, Hey, make sure you don’t do this or don’t do this. Like I know there’s just some very specific things we can do as we are creating assets and maybe we can speak to the difference between like a trademark and maybe how to go into that versus IP and what that is.

And then also love to talk about contracts a little bit and kind of how to make sure we’re getting all the right things on paper before we partner or do an affiliate thing or hire somebody even. So maybe we could start with trademark. What is that specifically? And how do we go about what’s the process for making sure that when we’re building a business or if we have one that we are indeed protecting that asset and doing things the right way.

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: Before I speak specifically to trademarks, I’d love to briefly share my legally launched framework, which is a three part framework that I like to use to introduce the concept of a legal foundation.

And it’s your business entity. your intellectual property and your contracts. And those are the three I would love. Hopefully one day I can come up with like a nice acronym or something that delivers it in a bit more, you know, digestible of a way, but simple enough. And I love the on Nausheen’s workshop. I heard the rule of three and I’m like, okay, I feel like I was intuitively on the right path with that one.

Pat Flynn: So I’m like, what are the three one more time?

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: So your business entity, which is like your LLC or your corporation, that’s something that just envelops your, your business, everything, all of your business activity and everything that you’re doing, everything that you own is, is within this business entity.

That Corporation or LLC. The second is your intellectual property. And we’ll talk more about what that looks like. But those are the assets in your business. And then the third are contracts, written agreements. And these are written agreements that you have with your clients, with your customers, with your team members, your business partners, et cetera.

All of these work together, your business entity, your contracts and your IP. They work together. They’re all connected. And with businesses today, especially digital based businesses and online based businesses, we don’t really have the physical assets and physical inventory, the equipment or the, the brick and mortar building.

You know, none of that is really necessary. Do you have a physical office, by the way, headquarters, if you will?

Pat Flynn: No, I work out of my home. I used to have one, but. I didn’t want to work out of a WeWork anymore.

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: Yeah, I hear you. I get that. Yeah, same. I also now work out of my home, so I do not and I’ve never owned a building that was dedicated to the business activities either.

So, and I think, once again, I think most people would say same, you know, as, as far as my business goes that I operate online entirely. It’s largely unnecessary to have, you know, many of these physical assets that traditionally were just a part of, you know, starting a business, you wanted to start a business, you’d go rent a building or rent to office or purchase an office building or a building for where you’re rendering services or selling products.

And that’s just not necessary anymore. So we don’t necessarily have all these physical assets. We have the intellectual property assets, which are intangible assets that we can’t necessarily touch and hold and feel or physically move but they are these creations of the human mind and the human intellect.

And there are a number of kinds of intellectual property, but for purposes of our conversation and for those who are selling a product or service online, building a brand, creating content, publishing it on various platforms, the two types of IP you’ll want to get really familiar with, and, and you will have to get familiar with them over time, you know, different situations will arise where you will have to face the IP, I don’t know, I don’t want to call it nightmare because you already know I love IP, but, but for many people it’s, yeah, you’ll eventually have to face it and it’s trademarks and copyright. So these are the two kinds of IP you’ll want to get familiar with.

And I shared my analogy with you prior and, and it’s something that, you know, I feel like paints the picture of, of these two concepts of trademarks and copyrights. And it’s picturing a box. So if you can picture a box or a package of some kind and it has labels or packaging on the outside of the box, and you know, some things in inside the box, you don’t quite know what it is yet, but you can see on the outside of the box, there are source identifiers.

So the name of the company, the box is from the logo and the different colors that that brand or company uses a slogan or a tagline, maybe even a hashtag that they use promotionally. You can see that, but you can’t see what’s inside the box. But based on your familiarity with those labels on the outside of the box, you have an idea of what might be inside.

And those labels on the outside of the box are your trademarks, their distinct source identifiers. So the name of your company, the name of your podcast or YouTube channel, the name of your membership community, the name of your online course. All of these are your trademarks. Trademarks, they identify the source of the product or service that’s being sold.

Think of it as like the tag that if your offer were a physical product, what would the hanging tag say? And that would be the name of your company or the name of the brand that is selling this product or service. Once you open the box up and you look inside, you’ll find the contents of the box and you’ll quite literally find the content of your business inside the box.

And that content extends to your visual content, photography, videography, written content on your website, on your blog, in your emails, in your eBooks, in any digital product that you develop and audio content, which might include music that might include a jingle that might include podcast audios. And so on.

And so those are your copyright assets. And when you own the right to a copyright asset, you have the exclusive rights to the use of it, to publish it, to repurpose it, to create a derivative work based on it, to license the use of it to others. And these are really that most business owners and entrepreneurs today have these two types of intellectual property assets in their business.

Many of them, however, are not taking steps to make sure that they exclusively own those IP assets and enforce their rights in the event that somebody else infringes on their IP assets.

Pat Flynn: I love the box analogy. It’s so clear. So the box. That’s the trademark. It’s the stuff on the outside that we see that helps us identify that this is coming from this brand.

It’s Nike’s Just Do It tagline, and it’s swoosh, right? Nike being a big recognizable brand. And it’s trademarked with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which means it is protected. They can go out and, stop somebody else from using that, right? Because then it would cause confusion in the marketplace.

And that’s what at least in the U. S. And, you know, most trademark offices are just trying to protect from so that it protects the consumers as much as it protects the company, right?

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: Yes, he nailed it. Exactly. And I will say this to having a trademark registration. That is best case scenario. If you are using a trademark and if you want to claim exclusive Ideally, and this is if you’re in the U. S. or doing business in the U. S. Ideally, you have the federal registration with the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office. That gives you rights across the country, which in today’s day and age, it’s pretty obvious. I think it goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyways, your business and your customers are not limited to your state or your city.

You’re able to, you know, serve clients and customers all across the country and really all around the world. But for sake of the U. S. market, Your customers are all over the different 50 states, and so you want to be able to claim rights to the use of it in every state so that you know, I’m in Texas, you’re in California, right? I want to make sure I’m starting my business and I’m based in Texas somebody in California could not start using that name and claim rights to it. And if I don’t secure rights to it federally, they could beat me to the punch if their brand is expanding and has gain more recognition commercially, I could be limited geographically if I don’t have that federal registration.

So it’s a good proactive measure to take in registering your trademark. If you’ve decided, okay, I’m invested in this brand or, you know, I’m, I’m tied to this brand. I really want to hang my. business on this brand, whatever angle you’re taking in terms of your use of this trademark asset. I like to say if you were scrolling on social media and you saw somebody else using your brand name, if you’d be pissed off, you should probably register your trademark.

Don’t wait for that moment because that’s never fun. But if you don’t have a trademark registration, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have any rights to claim in it. There are common law trademark rights, which means you are used to get as a trademark and you could claim you are in a position to claim rights to it, but you haven’t formally pursued that registration and formalized your rights.

So in those instances, you could potentially be limited geographically, but you’re not totally without rights.

Pat Flynn: So if, if I am scrolling through social and I see somebody using a brand mark that I haven’t formally registered yet, but I know I’ve been using it for years, I have some rights, right? There’s like a first usage kind of component.

What would be the next steps from there and how protected am I just from using it?

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: So if you find that somebody recently started using your trademark and you have been using it for years and they have not yet applied for registration, it’s a possibility that your next best step is to, to apply for registration and begin the process of solidifying and formalizing your rights.

Yeah, in the trademark. And so I would say, you know, before doing that, consult with a trademark attorney so that they can actually assess the situation and provide you with an analysis from a legal standpoint. Like, okay, what does this actually look like? And what is, you know, the diagnosis, if you will, how should we proceed?

What is the best course of action to follow? And it’s likely that the next step is to, okay, let’s actually secure your rights and formalize them so that if you do need to pursue legal action against this other person, if the other person was, you know, maliciously using your trademark, trying to deceive others and mislead consumers to believe that their source of the product was actually your source and they were trying to divert customers from you, you might find yourself wanting to seek legal action against them.

And if you do, then you’ll want to have that trademark registration handy.

Pat Flynn: Gotcha. What if you can tell that they weren’t trying to confuse. They just didn’t know that your brand existed beforehand. It was an honest mistake, but they’re, they’re using it. Is there a way to more politely, I guess, help them understand that they need to make a change?

And is that usually the right course of action when you can tell that it’s, you know, not a nefarious sort of act?

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: Well, there’s a saying that attorneys like to say, and it’s that ignorance of the law is no defense, which sounds a little like—you know, like,

Pat Flynn: I get it though,

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: It’s dark a little bit, but that’s the reality of the, the situation in this instance is even if you aren’t intentionally committing trademark infringement, it could still be found that you’ve committed trademark infringement and there could still be damages owed, which really just supports the argument of be proactive, be, you know, take initiative so that you can avoid those situations.

Do a trademark clearance search before you decide on a name, before you invest in your branding and your website and your marketing materials and all the things that make the announcement, do a trademark clearance search and make sure that you’re not going to be infringing on anybody else’s brand. And that’s your due diligence as a business owner.

And as somebody who is developing a brand online, however, what can we do if we find that somebody is you know, committing this against our business, but there isn’t really an ill intention. They’re not trying to scam people. They’re just, you know, they’ve also started a business or a brand, and it just so happens that the name they selected, maybe they didn’t do a trademark clearance search.

It’s a vicious cycle, you know, and so you might find yourself facing the situation. And the answer is not to run to the courthouse and file a lawsuit. That’s, it’s a very expensive process. That’s not a solution. It’s not going to solve this for you quickly. One approach is to send a demand letter to the other party and inform them with, I don’t know, maybe they really didn’t know, you know, or maybe they did know and, you know, they need a reminder of the act that they’re committing against you.

And also, you know, put into perspective that maybe you’ve filed the application. I would, if you don’t have a registration or an application on file, maybe do that before you raise their attention, because that might I’ve seen that unfold in that way where you’ll bring it to their, the party brings it to the other person’s attention and then they beat them to it and go file the application before the original party does and that’s not irreversible.

You know, it’s a situation you can reverse and it just gets messy from there. But that’s one of those situations you don’t want to have to be paying for my friend. You don’t want to pay that legal bill. You don’t want to spend the time doing all that. I think you’d agree.

Pat Flynn: Absolutely. So we talked a little bit about protecting our brand and our mark.

Let’s talk about our copyright, our, the things that we’re creating, the things inside the box. How do we protect those things?

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: Yeah, well, we’re getting to a very interesting point in time in terms of the use of artificial intelligence and content creation. And I feel like there’s so many interesting topics that we could go into.

Yeah. As it relates to protecting your content, because there are more things to protect your content from these days than there were 10 years ago, you know, but I would say generally speaking, if you are somebody who’s creating content online, you want to make sure that of course, that you’re protecting your content from other people using it without your authorization, but also you want to make sure that you are not putting yourself in a position to be accused of copying their brand, copying their content, plagiarizing their content, misusing their, somebody else’s intellectual property.

So I get the question a lot around what, where do we draw the line between inspiration and copying? Where is that line drawn? When do we cross that line in terms of creating content? And really copyright ownership and owning the rights in an original work of art or authorship comes down to the unique creative expression of whatever it is that you’re expressing.

So, you know, there are a lot of people on the internet talking about trademark law, talking about copyright law, but they might be delivering the same information, but they’re expressing it in a unique way. A lot of people might take a photo of a certain scene, but everybody captures that image in their unique manner with the various things that go into creating a creative work of art in the form of an image or in the form of a podcast episode or in the form of a video.

And so, I would say, if you are consuming the content of others, and also creating your own content, just make sure that you are expressing that information in your own unique way that you are not using the content of others as a template or something that you are creating a derivative work based off of the majority of it should be original to you and should be, you know, your own creative expression.

And so, again, like AI comes to mind because it’s a very interesting time that I don’t know. Have you talked much about AI on your podcast? Are you like, are you an AI guy? I guess I don’t know.

Pat Flynn: A little bit. I like and use AI as an actual assistant to help me with brainstorming more than anything. I don’t, I don’t copy paste from it.

And, you know, I use it as a way to kind of start ideas versus, you know, give me the final idea.

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: It’s so good for that. I love it for that. I love it for brief writing too. I love to share, you know, my ideas and help in it supports me in developing the ideas and then creating a final brief based on the language that I fed the AI machine. So it’s a really great tool, but it could certainly be misused. I think that it’s about the final outcome of the work product that the AI machine is producing. It cannot be claimed as copyright ownership if the AI tool is the one who generated it because only a human being can claim rights to a copyright asset, an original work of art or authorship.

There was a case about a monkey that captured an image on a camera and that image could not be registered as a copyright. It could not, nobody had exclusive rights to the use of it. And so we face a similar, yet of course, very different situation now with AI. And so the outcome and your ability to maintain rights in the outcome and the work product from the AI machine, I believe is heavily dependent on your input and what you’re feeding the machine and how it varies. You know, are we using, are we planting a seed and allowing for the AI tool to really grow and nurture that seed? And, you know, based on the information it has, or are we providing it with a fully grown, I don’t know. Should I keep with the plant analogy? I don’t really know, but are we providing it with something that, you know, has a lot of original ideas and information and we’re asking it to maintain the essence of that and to maintain, you know, the, that’s something that I use a lot with my, I would love to hear what your go to phrases and prompts are with your, with your AI machine.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, I mean, I usually, I mean, I got a lot of help from my buddy, Rick Mulready, who’s focusing on specifically AI use for businesses and prompt engineering is a very important component of that and kind of training the AI to you are a world class copy editor for a book. How would you suggest you might edit this section of the book that I’m writing, for example, just again, brainstorming, get some ideas.

So yeah, it’s really interesting. I have a question, because we could, we could go for hours on AI, especially where it’s going, and there’s like the Scarlett Johansson case that’s going on right now, which is so interesting with her voice and all this stuff that’s going on.

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: And the incrimination on X. I’m like, what’s going on over there?

Pat Flynn: Oh yeah.

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: Not at X. But also what’s going on at X, but I meant what’s going on at open AI.

Pat Flynn: Oh, at Open AI. Yes. Yeah. I don’t even know what’s going on over there. And then the Sam like left as CEO and then came back and then all this other stuff’s going on. I have no idea. It’s just going to be really interesting to see what happens.

So it’s important to keep up. And this is why like having people like yourself, and especially because you are now an official EIR here at SPI, and we’re so proud and stoked to have you there and have, you know, some access to our probe members to somebody who is knowledgeable in this, in this subject, because, you know, we don’t.

Want to talk about these things, but in many cases we have to, and to have a person like you to go to in, in our community is really just so valuable. So thank you. And, and if anybody wants to check out your website, is the place to go. And you have a YouTube channel and socials and all these other things too.

So we’ll see you in pro, but my question, I know this is a common one, is like, okay, in order to avoid potentially infringing on somebody else’s stuff, like, is simply crediting them gonna get us off the hook? Or is that not enough? Would that work for us in most cases?

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: Yeah, that’s a good one. And that’s another common thing that I see even non commercially, some people will use music.

I don’t know, not so much anymore. But I feel like 10 years ago, it was a fairly common practice, right? People would put it in the caption of the description. I don’t own the rights to the use of this music, thinking that that would somehow disclaim them from, you know, any sort of liability, or maybe it would prevent their video from being taken down.

The issue really comes into play if you are using the content, the music or, you know, the photo or the video in a commercial manner, if you’re using it to promote something that is, you know, commercial in nature, there’s a paid offer or there’s something commercial tied to it that becomes problematic because then you’re using it to profit.

You’re using it to make money and to promote something that you sell. And so having in the caption or in the description, I don’t own the rights to this music or providing credit to the original creator is not enough. You want to get consent and authorization from the owner of that creator. That, in my opinion, is the best practice.

And that’s how you can avoid infringement allegations. Because if you’re using it, you know, their video or their audio without their permission, even if you provide them with credit, they didn’t consent to the use of that. And you’re misusing their intellectual property assets. So the right thing to do is to ask for permission.

And yeah, it’s interesting to you. Whenever I see the, I don’t own the rights to the use of this. I’m like, why are you confessing your sins right now?

Pat Flynn: That’s so true. I’m always in the camp of just get consent, but also that can help start a relationship. It’s like, Hey, I see this great work you’re doing.

I’d love to amplify it for you. Do you mind if I share this with my audience? And by the way, what can I help you with? It can be spun into an incredibly amazing, positive sort of interaction versus like, Hey, I kind of took your idea and I just shared it with everybody and I made sure to give you credit and then that doesn’t come across as well.

Although in many cases people will be fine with that because you’re amplifying their work and giving them credit. But it just takes out one person who’s like, no, that’s not enough to kind of like ruin your day.

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: Yes, and sometimes it can turn ugly too. You know, and, and sometimes it can cost money and time.

For example, if you’re using it in something that you’re publishing, you know, there are costs associated with content production. If you’re putting something in print, if you are editing an episode of some kind, there are costs associated with that. And if you’re having to go back and, and redo or make modifications or, you know, you know, it can just cost money and time and energy that I think our businesses are worthy of all of those things.

You just don’t want to be investing those resources in a way that progress your business and grow your business and elevate your business, as opposed to trying to clean up a mess on the backend, which many times could have been avoided in the first place. So here’s to avoiding more legal troubles in the future.

Pat Flynn: Speaking of avoiding legal troubles to finish up here on this topic of contracts. I know this is a very important segment of your legal framework. It’s the third one. And can you give us an idea of why this is important and what to look out for? How do we set ourselves up for success when it comes to contracts and where are these contracts coming into place exactly.

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: I would say that contracts are the glue that holds your business together. These written agreements between you and every party you’re doing business with will support and govern your relationship and really have a huge influence on the outcome of the professional relationship. We all enter into relationships.

We enter into these professional relationships with the intention of them going well, of course, whether we’re the client or the service provider, nobody’s entering into a contract, hoping it ends up in court. You know, that’s a little, I don’t know, like it’d be dark. Yeah, it’s a little, it’s like, I wonder how this can go south.

No, I personally, I’ve never, I’ve never attempted that, but we’re all coming into these relationships, yeah, with the hopes and intentions that it’s going to be a productive, positive working relationship with a great outcome that we both intend to achieve and every professional relationship has, you know, its own circumstances, different factors involved, different things that could arise depending on the nature of the relationship.

So, you know, between you and your clients, it’s a different relationship and it’s a different dynamic. And there are different policies at play then with your business partner. You’re, you know, 50-50 with a business partner. If you have investors that you’ve taken on in your company, your relationship with them looks very different.

Having the terms of those relationships in writing supports those relationships. And like I mentioned earlier, helps create a roadmap that both parties and all parties involved can look at and see, okay, if we come to this kind of a dispute, how are we going to navigate? How do we proceed? I’m sure you’ve encountered this plenty in the different relationships you’ve been a part of Pat.

And I would think that you’d agree. Yeah, that it really helps support the relationship. And when a contract is poorly drafted or doesn’t address the different policies that, you know, the what ifs or the contingencies that are likely to pop up in the relationship, it can feel a little disorienting. It can feel a little like, okay, what next?

And now you find yourself having to negotiate in real time, which anything could happen in those situations. You know, the deal could fall apart. The relationship could deteriorate. You know, there could be a conflict that arises or a larger dispute that comes about. You could find yourself, you know, having to come out of pocket to make the situation right.

You could find yourself, you know, being at a loss and making demands for compensation due to something going south in the relationship. And so when it comes to contracts, I believe that They should be prioritized and we’ve got to create systems and, you know, a standardized process within each of our businesses.

And every business has different needs when it comes to contracts. Depending on what you sell, every offer that you sell should have its own terms and conditions or contract attached. They might be very similar across the board, but depending on the container of the offer, whether it’s you know, a self paced course is very different than a six month one to one client contract, as is, you know, a monthly subscription membership.

The terms look very different across the board. You know, each of those offers and then when you have business partners, it’s really important to spell it all out. So everybody’s on the same page. So, so yeah, we’ve got to create systems for ourselves in our businesses. When, every time I sign a new client or every time somebody purchases, they’ve got to agree to these terms.

Every time I work with a new partner, we talk about what policies we agree to around intellectual property, who owns the IP that we’re creating together, who has the rights to the use of it and in what way, and that really sets you up for success. I’m a believer. Right.

Pat Flynn: Contracts have played a huge role in our business and it’s something that I never even thought about when I first started.

And it wasn’t until my first sort of sponsorship deal that I did with my first company that I realized, oh, I need like something here. So I found like a boilerplate sponsorship agreement and thankfully those aren’t too difficult to understand cause it’s like, okay, you’re gonna be on the website, on this property for this many days with this kind of ad for this much money.

And you owe this much money by this time, pay here, pay here. And if you don’t, there could be some interest or some penalties as a result of that or the ad would be removed. So fairly simple for a beginner like me to understand, but, you know, beyond that, there’s going to be needing some help along the way.

I think I know the answer is always best to like, okay, go to the attorney that you have been working with, who knows your business and can help you draft contracts related to the kind of work you’re doing or the partnerships you’re creating and such. But is it, that can get again, very expensive. And again, it’s worth the price if you know that especially these things are going to provide an ROI and you want to protect them down the road.

But I also don’t want that to hinder somebody from, for example, creating a coaching program where they could work with somebody one to one for six months. Like, how would you recommend those people who want to do this but are scared of, like, investing a ton of money up front? How do they get a contract that is good enough to start with?

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: Okay, so this is a very common occurrence, a very common experience. A lot of people face the situation, you know, early on in their in their business journeys. Okay, I recognize and most entrepreneurs I talk to, they, they are of the belief of needing legal protection. They just, one, don’t know what they need and two, don’t know how to proceed.

What direction do I go? Who can I help? You know, I know that there are lawyers that I can hire. There are various reasons why I shy away from that. I get ads for, you know, companies like LegalZoom, which, you know, I’m not here to knock LegalZoom, I’ve actually never personally used them, so I can’t speak from my own personal experience, but I’ve seen the outcome of some of their work and that it is a very automated process.

So it’s not really the better option, you know, it’s, It’s pretty detached and leaves a lot of room for error. And so when I was practicing law and working with clients we were developing contracts for within their businesses, you know, their client agreements, their website terms and conditions and privacy policy for various SAS products or terms of use associated with that with employees, with contractors, business partners, and JV partnerships.

I found that I was also reviewing a lot of contracts that were created by other attorneys, and they were business attorneys, some of them are IP attorneys, and it wasn’t anything personal about the attorney, of course, it was a matter of I had the opportunity to see what kind of contracts were actively floating around being used in the market, and that a lot of them were not specific to the digital nature of business.

that we were engaged in, and that is possible today by use of the Internet and technology. And so I identified this a bit of a gap in the market in terms of, you know, okay, is it actually the best option to hire a law firm to create a custom contract that can cost upwards of 3,000 potentially, depending on the complexity of the agreement and the deal.

And, you know, 3,000, that’s a nice chunk of change for a new startup and somebody who’s starting a business out the gate and, you know, most people do not have thousands of dollars to invest in hiring a law firm right away. Right. So I created this brand Coaches and Company, which thank you for sharing earlier, Pat, which is essentially an online marketplace where you can purchase downloadable contract templates that are. Lawyer created and approved. They’re designed for digital business. So if you are selling an offer online services, like one on one coaching, consulting, if you’re selling a course, a group coaching program, an online workshop, an online course, if you have a membership, all of these need contracts.

If you’re hiring contractors, employees, an associate coach in your program, if you’re collecting data on a website, you need a privacy policy by law. And so these were all things that if you were to hire a lawyer to create each and every one of these for your business, that could be 10,000 and above, which I think a lot of entrepreneurs in the first year in your business would be like, huh.

What 10,000. I can’t do that. And I, I know that because I’ve heard clients say that, and I’ve heard in entrepreneurs say that is that’s not possible for me. And I used to be of the belief that hiring a lawyer was the best option and that because I thought it was really the only option. But now what I’ve seen in practice is that having a contract, like the ones that we offer at that is designed for your type of business and the nature of the transaction, tailoring that, filling in your information, the offer, your business, your information, et cetera, and then taking that to that local attorney to review it and make any revisions or recommendations to modify in the contract is more cost efficient.

It does not cost as much and it should not cost you as much as it does to have a custom contract drafted. And it’s more likely to be protective of your business and the business activities that you’re engaged in because the, the contract itself, the base of it is created by an attorney who understands the, the ins and outs and the nature of digital business and selling services and digital products online.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, these are amazing. I mean, if you’re working one on one, I see the contract group coaching, if you’re doing a mastermind podcast, guest subscription, membership site, VIP day, or an intensive, you even have like non disclosures and courses, products, all the things are here, which is really nice. And, you know, relatively cheap, obviously, compared to what it would be to hire an attorney. So this is amazing. And so again, everybody check out a great solution for those of us who are just getting started, of course.

And just, yeah, as I appreciate you so much for your time today. And of course, we’re going to spend more time with you inside of SPI Pro. You have a more detailed workshop in there. People have access to and things from office hours and all those kinds of things. We’re just so grateful to have you in there as a resource for, for this very important part of business that often gets overlooked.

And it’s it was a key part to having SPI Pro be as valuable as it can to people. So I appreciate you for, for being a part of it. Where else can people connect with you, Yas, online, if it’s not just

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: And likewise, thank you. I’m so happy to be here. I’m really excited for the future.

I think it’s going to be great. I am pretty much anywhere you’re hanging out on the internet. You could probably find me. I’m not very hard to find. I think I might be the only person on earth with my name. I’m not entirely sure, but my name is not very common. So it’s pretty easy to find me, but I like to hang out on Threads on Instagram.

It’s been a fun alternative to Twitter. I was on Twitter prior, yeah, or on X, but yeah, I’m enjoying it over there. I’m also on LinkedIn. So I would love if you’re on LinkedIn, would love to connect with you there. Please send me a message, say hello, if you’re crossing paths with me here on the podcast, or if you’re a member of the SPI pro community, we’d love to connect with you over there.

And yeah, I’m at of course you can get our contract templates there. And I’m, yeah, I’m excited for what’s to come.

Pat Flynn: Thank you guys. Me and appreciate you so much. And we’ll put all the links in the show notes for everybody. And we’ll see you inside of Pro.

Yasmine Salem Hamdan: Talk soon.

Pat Flynn: All right, I hope you enjoyed that interview with Yasmine Salem Hamdan.

You can find her at You can find all the legal contracts and other things we just talked about over on her shop, on her website. And you can find her on LinkedIn and also on Instagram. And she’s just amazing. And of course, you can find her on Twitter. Inside of SPI Pro as well.

She’ll be running some workshops. She’ll be there as a resource for all of the members of SPI Pro. And if you are a business owner and you’re like, man, I wish I had somebody that I could get access to, to just ask some simple questions or maybe even get some direction and help from, you should join SPI Pro because it’s not just Yasmine in there.

There’s so many other incredible men and women who are helping people like you through their business based on their expertise, and we’re here to help you showcase yours to your audience as well. So head on over to and fill out that application. We’d love to see you in there. We have more people coming in all the time, and we’d love to welcome you and point you in the right direction.

And it’s not about content. It’s about connection, community, masterminds, access to experts, and more. We’ll see you in there. Thank you so much. I appreciate you. And all the show notes can be found at Cheers and have a good one.

Thank you so much for listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast at I’m your host, Pat Flynn. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Our senior producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media, and a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network. Catch you next week!

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