If you own a business eventually it will have a trademark or something that makes the firm stand out from another. It can be the marketing design, if you company is in the creative field it will have its own products. After inventing the product and before it needs to be sold, the product needs to be copyrighted, otherwise if the product has any success in the marketplace, it will be copied by another company somewhere in the world. To ensure that the company can stop the copying, the company will use lawyers who specialize in copyrights to sue and try to win penalties. Eventually copyright wears off or anyone can use the product to sell merchandise. In the world of pharmaceuticals, when the patent comes off over companies make generics which sell at lower prices.
In an article by Brooks Barnes of the New York Times News Service, one of the most creative companies in the world is Disney. Disney is a company which protects its copyrights, even though many of its characters means many things to its customers. Disney once forced a Florida daycare to remove an authorized Minnie Mouse mural. In 2006, it stopped a stone mason from carving Winnie the Pooh into a child’s gravestone.
The original Mickey Mouse or Steamboat Willie’s patent from 1928 is set to expire in 2023, how will Disney respond?
Disney holds trademarks on its characters and trademarks never expire as long as the companies keep submitting the proper paperwork. A copyright covers a specific creation, trademarks are design to protect against consumer confusion.
The Steamboat Willie character is not the soft cuddly character we all think of as Mickey Mouse, but Disney has been trying to incorporate the Steamboat Willie into the consumer’s minds as coming from Disney.
Linking to dividend paying stocks, all companies with patents and copyrights have to protect them, the issue is how much do they protect and to what extent can you. The reality is all successful products are copied somewhere in the world, the company makes a fake product and sells it and high margins, the company benefits the consumer misses out. Unless the company can fight it through education and lawyers – do you know or recognize a real and fake high fashion item? if you do not you can understand why large companies spend money on lawyers. How does your company protect itself?
There are more questions than answers, till the next time – to raising questions.