So your spouse was wrong all along
and people really are prepared to
pay substantial sums to listen to you
speak. While that may be good news, it is
troublesome information for your lawyer.
Your training materials, speech content,
your name, your products—in fact, anything that you have discovered that people
are willing to buy, may be copied or stolen
Your business partners will steal your
money. Agents and distributors will double
deal. You will be seen as a person worth
suing. In addition, the glamour of treading
the world stage will be viewed by your
lawyer as a dangerous legal ground, subject to the discretion of many different laws
and court systems.
Despite the differences in international
law, it is possible to safely operate globally
without fear of offending the local authorities. Here are 10 tips to keep in mind,
regardless of your nationality or the country
you are doing business in, to protect your
1. As a successful public figure, people
will say things about you which you do
not like—defamatory, poisonous and
hurtful things. Your family and friends will
advise you to sue; however, your
lawyer will write a chilling letter on your
behalf and advise you to accept an
apology and move on. Do it. You may
not even remember the insult in six
2. As a speaker you may say something
offensive, which leads to you receiving a
lawyer’s letter alleging defamation. Be
ready to apologize early—it’s cheaper
than being a target of a lawsuit.
10 Things International Speakers Need to Know
About the Law
it is possible
to safely operate
fear of offending
3. Use the © symbol to protect your original works such as training materials or
written speeches. For more information, read “Copyright for Creative People” at www.brennanlaw.com.au.
4. Register trademarks in the countries in
which you operate.
5. Use confidentiality agreements to protect your business secrets (i.e., your
client list). Understand that your employees are usually bound by law to
keep your business secrets confidential, regardless if they have signed an
agreement. Let them know that.
6. Never give advice to strangers, as they
may sue you if you get it wrong. Have
a contract that identifies the advice,
and at least get paid for advice that
may land you in court.
7. Have written agreements governing
every relationship, including distribution
services, agency affiliations and licensing of your intellectual property. Try to
wait until agreements are signed
before commencing the business relationship—or regret it.
8. Monitor your financial advisors.
9. Be careful about what you send in e-mail. There is a smoking gun e-mail in
almost every legal case today.
10. Avoid committing promises in to writing
as they may turn out to be viewed as
misrepresentations, misleading conduct, defamatory or just very helpful to
the other party at your trial.
Columnist and lawyer Paul Brennan
currently lives and works in Mooloolaba,
Oueensland, Australia. He is the company
secretary of the National Speakers
Association of Australia and the author of
Law for IT Professionals. His focus is advising
small to medium-size businesses to meet
the challenges of doing business in
Australia and overseas. His new book for
small-business owners is The Law is an
Ass—Make Sure It
Doesn't Bite Yours.