How legally protecting a design can help you build an empire
What do LEGO and Rubik’s Cube have in common?
• They both started as product designs.
• They both were protected using intellectual property.
• They both turned into iconic brands.
How did they do it? Well, of course, each has its own interesting origin story, but what they both did right was they owned what they came up with and then protected the intellectual property associated with their creations. From there, they were able to leverage what they had into amazingly successful brands.
LEGO started as a toy brick and continued over the years to expand into a brand that includes playsets, figures, electronic games, theme parks, movies and so much more. Rubik’s Cube was a cube puzzle toy that expanded over the years into numerous other types of games, puzzles, key chains and even competitions.
All of this expansion came through having the vision to see beyond the initial idea, but more importantly, the proper steps were taken to protect and defend their visions. This gave them the foundation to be able to manufacture, license and otherwise commercialise what they came up with.
Think of it… Thousands of products, services and experiences all stemming from one toy design. It’s mind boggling. What inventor wouldn’t want that?!
When you are creating a product, you are probably just excited at the possibility to bring it to life but THINK BIG! Although not every brand makes it to the level of success that LEGO or Rubik’s Cube has achieved, without proper product protection your odds are that much lower that you’ll never get off the ground.
Are you dreaming of how your product or brand can turn into an empire? Then you need to set your foundation just like they did. In order to pave your road to profit – after all, you want to achieve financial freedom and create impact in the world – you need to at least start out with the following:
OWNERSHIP*: The key to being able to protect and monetise your idea is to make sure you OWN it. I can’t emphasise this enough. If you do not own the product, brand, design (whatever it is) then you do not control it. If you do not control it, then you cannot sell, license or otherwise monetise it. Ownership is the foundation on which you can build your empire because owning the underlying concept or design means that you can expand into other categories of goods and services.
*As a reminder, ownership comes from ensuring that you came up with the idea and have created everything associated with your idea, or you have something legally sufficient in writing that explicitly gives you ownership of what someone else has created for or with you.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY PROTECTION*: Actually protecting your design (using patents and copyrights) and brand (using trademarks) allows you to create a foothold that gives you a head start and the edge to work towards your goal of getting your product into the marketplace with the best chance that others won’t steal or copy it. Having intellectual property protection makes it easier to enforce your product and makes it easier to get deals and make money.
*Protectability of intellectual property is a separate issue. The goal is to create something that is unique, stands out in the marketplace and is protectible either under patent, trademark or copyright law.
Think of it this way… Owning and protecting what you have created can be the basis for your success and lead to a world of opportunities. So, don’t stop at your initial idea.
Maybe you’ve come up with a game and created some interesting characters. Sure, you want to legally protect the game, but what about the characters? Can you incorporate them into a storyline? Maybe you can create storybooks? And maybe those storybooks will be sold with toy figures? And maybe those characters can turn into an animated series… It goes on and on.
Let your imagination run wild. That’s the beauty of intellectual property protection – you can create one thing and build it into an empire (if you plan and protect properly, of course).
Remember that protection is never 100%, but without taking these steps, you leave the door wide open for anyone and everyone. Protecting your product using patents, trademarks, copyrights (and even trade secrets – think of Coca Cola) gives you the presumption of ownership, puts others on notice and gives you the opportunity to enjoy the rewards of your hard work.
Wishing you much success in building your empire! You got this!
Our Protect for Success course can help you figure out what intellectual property you have, whether you own your idea & what to look out for in your contracts. Get the edge. Click on the banner above to learn more.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and not intended as legal advice.
Note from the Author, Stephanie Pottick: I’m excited to share this article with you! I’m a U.S. attorney & course creator who used to work in the toy industry on the business side so I’ve done my share of product creation, protection and licensing and understand them from both the business & legal perspectives. My passion is to educate creators so they can launch & license with confidence. Thanks to Mojo Nation & Brands Untapped for the opportunity to connect with you. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org – I’d love to hear what you think.
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