Excerpt from chapter 1 of Ownability – How Intellectual Property Works now available for pre-order at a 20% discount.
Intellectual property is everywhere. You can hardly exist in the modern world, let alone on the internet, without accessing or using someone’s intellectual property.
The rules of intellectual property help you turn ideas into money, which, at its essence, is pretty much the goal of any creative or innovative business. Most productive companies can be thought of as little machines that take ideas in one end and pump money out of the other end by turning those ideas into tangible assets that can be owned, protected, and ultimately sold for profit — a process enabled and governed almost entirely by intellectual property law.
Today’s so-called knowledge economy veritably demands a working knowledge of IP. In developed economies, the owners of a company – its shareholders – generally expect the company’s management to seize every lawful opportunity to increase the company’s valuation and reduce the company’s risks. Intellectual property law provides an array of options for achieving these goals. The wise entrepreneur should therefore obtain an understanding of IP basics and treat IP as an important component of efforts to maximize both company valuation and shareholder wealth.
Thankfully, of course, not all artistic endeavors have a business or money-making focus; plenty of IP is created every day that is never intended for sale or profit. But even these non-commercial creations are governed by the rules of intellectual property, so it’s a good idea for creators across the spectrum to become familiar with how IP works.
IP is the ROI on R&D – it’s the reward you get for investing in innovation and design. Effective use of IP can create substantial value. Any enterprise that creates, innovates, designs, invents, or advances the state of the art in any technology should consider protecting its creations, innovations, designs, inventions, and advancements by obtaining all available IP rights.
Aggressive, consistent attention to IP should be a core practice for businesses and solo artists alike. Creators of every size and flavor can use IP to fatten their valuation and thin their risk profile. Assets as prosaic as a brand name and a customer list can be protected by IP. Nearly every company and working artist owns such items and can use IP to protect them.
Of course, it may or may not turn out to intelligent or ethical decision for you to assert your IP rights against other people (by suing them) once those rights are obtained. But that should not stop you obtaining all the IP rights to which you are entitled. You can always opt not to sue people. But you never have a chance to decide whether or not to sue them if you neglect to obtain IP rights in the first place.