Ever heard of the American cartoonist Ub Iwerks? Probably not. But you have heard of Mickey Mouse, haven’t you?
World’s most famous mouse, under the wings of Walt Disney, is now more than just a cartoon-character. Mickey Mouse is a trademark, a product, which yearly makes a huge amount of money by selling Mickey Mouse watches, t-shirts, postcards and many other objects.
The manufacturers, who sell these products, have to give Disney a license fee. The company earns huge amounts of money with this character.
And Ub Iwerks? Nobody knows whether he died poor, but he never became a millionaire, even though he is the creator of the mouse.
Eighty years ago Walt Disney saw the opportunities of the cartoon and bought the intellectual property from Iwerks for 5000 US dollar. Iwerks was not smart enough to also ask a percentage of income in the future.
Eventually, when the mouse was bringing in money, Ub could not do anything. This history illustrates how important it is to think deeply about your trademarks, products and models. The intellectual property, if registered, protects from stealing and gives you the opportunity to earn a lot of money with your creations. If Ub Iwerks did not take 5000 US dollar for granted, but also made a license deal with Disney, he would have been rich.