02 May 23
Nowadays, intangible assets such as a patent, brands, trademarks, or copyright define the value of a business. In protecting one's business, intellectual property is one of the most crucial aspects to consider. Intellectual property protects ownership rights to ideas and branding components to avoid plagiarism or misuse of a brand's assets.
Intellectual property (IP) refers to works of art and literature, innovations, designs, names, symbols, and pictures utilized commercially. The concept of intellectual property refers to the idea that particular works of human intellect deserve the same legal protections as tangible assets or physical property. Intellectual property is vital in creating and maintaining brand value. A brand should trademark its logo, tagline, and products, which patents and copyrights should cover. IP covers anything from creative writing, painting, characters, and unique brand names, to technology.
Disney's Successful Journey with Intellectual Property
Disney has always been considerate about protecting its intellectual property rights. The company has registered copyrights and trademarks to protect its popular fictional characters and their company identity. The first character Walt Disney made was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in 1927. Walt collaborated with Universal Studio to produce Oswald and later disagreed on the contract renewal. Walt then quit his job, established a Disney company, and created the Mickey Mouse character a year later. Under the copyright regulations at the time, the Mickey Mouse character earned copyright protection for 56 years (including the 28-year renewal), which expired in 1984. A report said that Disney lobbied hard for copyright reform following Mickey Mouse's expiry date. Copyright law was revised again in 1976 to span the author's life plus 50 or 75 years for corporate copyrights. Until now, Disney has always been very protective of its characters' ownership rights.
Disney has expanded and capitalized its characters into various businesses, utilizing them in various business opportunities. Before digital media services became popular, television was the source of entertainment. During this period, Disney launched Disney Channel and aired first-run original children's programs, theatrically-released original television movies, and other selected third-party programming. Disney also spread its wings by selling sweatshirts, shoes, t-shirts, bags, and jewelry with Disney characters. On other occasions, Disney collaborates with remarkable brands such as Swarovski, Givenchy and Sephora.
One of the essential lessons from Disney is how the company always keeps up with the time, coming up with relevant innovations that suit their target markets. In 2014, Disney launched Disney Tsum Tsum, a puzzle game starring famous Disney characters such as Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse, and Olaf from Frozen. The game is developed and distributed by Line Corporation. Along with the mobile game, Disney sells Tsum Tsum merchandise, ranging from $5 plush character dolls to a $53 Tsum Tsum lampshade. As of April 2017, the game had over 70 million downloads and over $1 billion in gross income, increasing total franchise revenue by over $2 billion, including merchandise sales. Disney Tsum Tsum has become the primary contributor to a $12 million year-over-year increase in operating profits for an entire corporate division. Until 2022, the company's most profitable segment was its media and entertainment division, which earned 55 billion USD in sales. Disney's successful business expansion exemplifies how intellectual property serves as risk management and a means of capitalizing on numerous business opportunities.
Disney's journey enlightens and motivates creators and businesses to keep an eye on their creations. A brand is one of the most important intellectual property assets a company could own. Hence, ensuring the brand name fits the business objectives and protects it along with the whole brand components is crucial. Hiring a professional brand consultant like Milestone to find a suitable development strategy for your brand could be an option. As a leading branding agency with years of experience, Milestone can assist you with your branding needs.