The term intellectual property refers to a collection of laws that protect products of the mind or personality, such as:
– Rights in ideas, and
– Rights of publicity
The laws that protect patents and trade secrets are also part of intellectual property, but these are generally less important to the comic book creator.
Intellectual property is often referred to by its abbreviated label, “IP.” So when you see IP in this book it means intellectual property, NOT internet protocol (nor Iberian Peninsula, incontinentia pigmenti, nor ice pellets).
All comic book deals are built upon the foundation of IP. When you design a costumed hero, you own more than the drawing in your sketchbook: you own the copyright to your drawing, the potential to trademark that character’s name, and the legal rights to control how that character is used in comic books, merchandising, films, and beyond. In other words, even though your copyright registration certificate is not as pretty as the drawing it represents, it may potentially be worth a lot more than even your most valuable signed original sketch!
It may be helpful to think of your IP as the “heart” of your creative rights.
INTERVIEW “By and large we see that a lot of the new, ‘green,’ creators, want to be part of this business . . . but they don’t understand what the actual business is. They are very weak on any of the legal, any of the IP, any of the copyright stuff. [. . .] If you want to make this your living, if you want to be a professional, you’re going to need to know how to copyright something. What’s parody? What’s not? Can I get sued for this?” – MIKE ARMSTRONG, Sales Manager, New York Comic Con (NYCC)
Excerpt from The Pocket Lawyer for Comic Book Creators by Thomas Crowell © 2014 Focal Press an imprint of Taylor and Francis Group.