So You Just Go Sued & You’re Preparing for a Protracted Legal Battle..
Imagine you’re just about to launch your product and service. You’ve worked your butt off, you’ve maxed out your credit cards, and then—bam!—you get a cease and desist order. What would you do?
In a recent episode of my podcast, I talked with an ambitious and talented entrepreneur who was just months away from shipping his first products, and the biggest company in his industry had their lawyers gang up on him. Be sure to listen to my episode with R.T. Custer on Apple Podcast or Spotify (or watch it below).
R.T. is the CEO and co-founder of the Vortic Watch Company. The archvillain in his company’s backstory is Swatch, who sued R.T. and his co-founder Tyler Wolfe just as they were about to send their customers their first wristwatches, which Swatch claimed infringed their trademark. Good news: After 6 years, R.T., Tyler, and their company won their legal battle.
Without going into details about that lawsuit, talking with R.T. made me think about what I would do if a massive conglomerate with deep pockets sued me. Would I be worried about losing my business and give in to their demands? Or would I stick to my guns and fight them? In this article, I explore a few tips for people who are uninterested in settling, and look forward to their day in court.
1. Seek Professional Legal Counsel
The first and most crucial step is to secure expert legal representation. As R.T. told me in our chat, “I should have asked for help sooner.” A seasoned attorney with experience in handling lawsuits can provide invaluable guidance.
2. Understand the Claims Against You
Thoroughly grasp the allegations made by whoever is suing you. Understanding the specific claims against you is essential for building a solid defense.
3. Document Everything
In legal battles, documentation is your best ally. Keep detailed records of all business transactions, communications, and relevant activities.
4. Maintain Business Operations
R.T. and his colleague Tyler figured out a way to keep their business manufacturing and selling watches, even as the lawyers crowded around them. While legal battles can be consuming, it’s crucial to maintain focus on your business operations.
5. Explore Settlement Options
While the Vortic Watch Company was uninterested in giving in to Swatch, your situation might be different, and it might be beneficial to explore settlement options with your opponent. Protracted legal battles can be costly and uncertain. Engage in open communication with your legal team to assess the feasibility of a settlement that is fair and mutually beneficial.
6. Insurance Coverage
Review your business insurance policies to determine if any coverage applies to the lawsuit. Liability insurance may provide financial assistance in covering legal expenses. Consult with your insurance provider and legal team to explore this potential resource.
7. Educate Your Team
Keep your employees informed about the legal proceedings. Educate them on the potential implications for the business and assure them of your commitment to resolving the issue.
8. Strategize for the Long Haul
It took the Vortic Watch Company six years to win their case. Be sure to develop a long-term strategy that encompasses potential scenarios, including appeals or extended court proceedings.
9. Focus on Innovation and Growth
Despite the legal challenges, continue to innovate and grow your business. Show resilience and commitment to your goals. Maintaining momentum in the face of adversity can send a powerful message to both your team and the market.
Lawsuits can be formidable obstacles on the path to entrepreneurial success, but with the right mindset and strategic approach, they can be navigated successfully. Remember, in the world of entrepreneurship, challenges are inevitable, but it’s how you face and overcome them that defines your success.
Be sure to check out my chat with R.T. Custer.
If you’d rather listen to this episode, be sure to subscribe to “Scaling Up Business Podcast” on your favorite podcast player:
Read more about this David and Goliath battle on the Vortic Watch Company’s website.