April 30, 2019

Legal Issues Facing Indie Hackers - What legal issues have you encountered?


When you have legal questions or need legal advice where do you go? Who do you ask?

What are you common legal issues you face?

  • copyright and patent issues
  • contracts
  • partnership agreements

I'm intrigued to know what legal problems you have faced as a fellow Indie Hacker.

  1. 2

    My accountant has a wealth of understand of many legal issues, this is my go to with many minor things (especially financial). I learned lawyers will give you a little free phone consulting. (I have really learned to appreciate lawyers when you are really stuck) My non-exhaustive list of minor legal run ins...

    1. (Lawyer) Sued for copyright infringement (first client out of college), I had to get a lawyer. (I learned to not sign anything anymore, or if I do to really understand what I sign)

    2. (Solved myself) A client's investor demanded all the software I was building. I deleted everything I had on my hard drives, and mailed CDs of the software to my client and told the investor (whom I had no agreements or contracts with) to deal with my client. (the investor guy was angry at me for some reason... sigh)

    3. (Solved myself using legal knowledge I learned) Had a client that got belligerent and angry (made my life miserable) when he found out a competitor was making the same software he was. I told him I "couldn't provide the service he needed anymore" (I simply couldn't work with him anymore, he turned nearly hateful) and then gave him free hosting until I could help him move his system to another company. When he demanded the entire framework (something I built for my own company, not for him) I explained to him that I owned even his software ("work for hire", something I learned from #1 above) and I didn't have to give him anything, but I helped him out anyways. He was super angry, but despite this I helped him get up and running with another company for free anyways.

    4. (Solved myself using legal knowledge I learned and a bit of business savy) I had a hard time collecting payments from a couple clients. (I won't work with them anymore), but one guy tried to pay me with the up front money for the "next project", which I politely accepted and then informed him we were "paid up" and the next job would need to be 100% up front. But before this, I had multiple times had to threaten legal action to get payments on projects. (I have learned my lesson now about this kind of client...)

    This is from 20 years of working as a software dev, which is very few minor legal scrapes, and very, very few clients have been problematic.

  2. 1

    We had an issue getting our trademark in the early days, Octopus is a very popular name for a business so we had a few objections. To get round it we read lots on trademark law, hired a lawyer (via Lexoo which is like an Uber for Lawyers) and also got advice/favours from those who worked at bigger companies and who had experienced similar issues.

    In the end we got the trademark, but was a period of 2/3 months where we were worried about having to totally rebrand.

  3. 1
    • For us it is hard to know who we should speak to for creating contracts. We are location independent as well so struggle with finding people who understand that element.