Don’t Let Legal Threats Cloud Your Business Judgment
It was 2006. I had just quit my Big Media job to join a start-up media company. This was long before the rise of Nine Lives Media (parent of MSPmentor) in 2008. After submitting my resignation, I received a letter from my former employer threatening to block my move to the start-up company. Moreover, the start-up company received a similarly threatening letter from my former employer. There was a lot of saber-rattling because I was allegedly violating a non-compete agreement. For a brief moment I was scared. But then…
… I reminded myself: I had done absolutely nothing wrong and my former employment contract essentially backed me up. I was free to go work for the new, start-up employer.
My former employer’s legal team was way off the mark. On the flip side, I had hired fantastic legal counsel, and gained complete peace of mind that I was marching forward in an ethical, responsible manner.
History Repeats Itself
Why do I share this brief piece of history with MSPs right now? Because we’ve all seen too many cease-and-desist letters and legal maneuvers in the MSP industry that were either baseless, misleading or thinly veiled attempts to pressure innovators into changing their business tactics.
Don’t get me wrong: Sometimes cease-and-desist letters and legal maneuvers are warranted. We’ve all got to protect our intellectual property. But sometimes, the legal steps are simply meant to create fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD).
If external lawyers come knocking on your door, take a deep breadth and don’t panic. Instead, do some soul searching and ask yourself:
- Did you purposely or accidentally wrong another company? If so, how are you going to make amends?
- Is the complainant full of s*** and merely trying to distract you from your mission?
Either way, make sure you have your own legal counsel. Assuming you’ve got a clean conscious, march forward aggressively.
Protect Your Rights — And Your Innovations
As one of my mentors once told me: If you receive a cease and desist or a legal complaint and you’ve really done nothing wrong — then you must be doing something really right to evoke such an aggressive stance from real or alleged competition.
Stay focused on your customers and let the lawyers work out the legal hassles. In the end, the truth will always set you free. Always.