Sarah here! Part 2 of my Pocket Rivals Kickstarter Journal. I'm starting this journal before we launch our Kickstarter page, because I want to share the pre-planning with you!
SECOND QUESTION:: WHAT IS AN IP AND WHY DO WE WANT ONE?
In my first post, I mentioned being excited about 100% original art work. What I meant was that I was excited about selling Interrobang-Studios-owned IP. IP stands for “Intellectual Property.” It’s stuff that Interrobang Studios’ creative team dreams up. Ideas that are fixed—character designs, names, branding, logos, manuscripts, comics, and other inventions—which are protected as our property under the law.
For example: Mickey is Disney IP, Daffy is Warner Bros IP, Walking Dead belongs to Robert Kirkman (up to the point where he sold the film rights to AMC), etc. If you are working on our own original idea, you’ve got your own IP!
Why we want one/many (many, actually) comes back to copyright and trademarks and licensing. Humor me a moment as I get into this.*
Copyright is your RIGHT to make a COPY. The moment you make a thing in a fixed format (where you've actually drawn or written down your idea), you have copyright. No one else can make a copy of your exact drawing or text without asking your permission and negotiating the sale of the RIGHT to make their own COPY. When someone breaks copyright, what they’re actually doing is stealing your image or text without permission. Plagiarism means breaking someone’s copyright. That’s illegal.
Trademark is a MARK associated with your TRADE. (Trade, like 'business.') It’s when you have a logo or a font or specific color combinations that signal to customers that this product or advertisement is from your company. Things ike an official sports team mascot or the Coca-Cola swirls or the little orange Patreon "P" button are all trademarks. If anyone used those trademarks without negotiating the sale of the right to use that MARK on the things they’re TRADING (selling), they’ve infringed your trademark. When someone infringes on a trademark, what they’re actually doing is stealing your company’s reputation. Perhaps they're making a bootleg product or issuing a misleading advertisement using your official branding. Again, that’s illegal.
The most important part of those paragraphs to Interrobang Studios' future (beyond the definition bit) is the part where we’re allowed to negotiate the sale of various rights linked to our IP: our characters, art, and stories. The sale of the right to make a copy or the sale of the right to use another company’s branding is called licensing!
Licensing is how most media companies make their big money.
Disney does not make coffee mugs or doggie sweaters. They sell the right to make coffee mugs and doggie sweaters to manufacturing businesses. Those businesses will use designs Disney owns or approves to make officially licensed Disney merchandise. The manufacturer’s contract will say how much money Disney will make off that manufacturer's products and what areas of the world those products can be sold.
Typically, everyone involved makes good money and it frees everyone up to do what they do best. Robert Kirkman (Walking Dead again) doesn’t have to be a great comic writer AND a great TV script-writer for all of us to enjoy a Walking Dead TV show. Mr. Kirkman had to give up some of his rights to another company, but AMC has done a great job, and everyone involved draws a paycheck.
As Kevin and I start out, developing more and more of our own IP will mean that we’re maturing as a company. In the long run, we’ll be building a legacy!
* - I’m not a lawyer! This is not legal advice! If you want to get the full in’s and out’s of protecting your business and your work under the law, you should get a professional lawyer, preferably one who specializes in IP.