The internet has become a dominant form of entertainment…and intellectual property. You can find just about any kind of entertainment content – from web only live action series to online celebrities. One area of online entertainment that is enormously popular is animals, especially pets that are turned into characters.
Everything from funny looking cats to skateboarding dogs to adorable sloths have carved out a bit of Internet fame for themselves. Sometimes their owners have converted their Internet fame into very real media empires. One such example is Grumpy Cat (www.grumpycats.com) a cat with a cute grumpy-looking face who has become incredibly popular and launched a web site, book deal, and other merchandise opportunities.
Although your pet is not technically an intellectual property, (it doesn’t have the right of publicity or a copyright like an animated character), there are ways you can secure the IP rights around your pet. For example, if your pet appears in a video or other media format, you can copyright it. You can also create a trademark or brand your pet’s name…but this has to be more than just a generic name (think Felix the Cat). If your pet has unique physical features, such as a distinct face or coloring, you may be able to use that in its trademark. You can also register a variety of domain names and set up social media accounts using the pet’s trademark name.
Once done, you’re now ready to commercialize your pet as an intellectual property. Who knows. With enough exposure on the internet, maybe your pet will become popular and generate some extra money from licensing deals for books, t-shirts or a line of pet food.
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Rand Brenner is an IP professional whose passion is helping inventors, startups, and businesses of all sizes use licensing to turn their IP into income-producing products, services, and technologies. His decades of experience run the gamut from medical devices to food technology to consumer products. He’s licensed some of the biggest Hollywood entertainment blockbusters including the Batman Movies (1 and 2), and the number one kid’s action TV show, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Rand speaks about licensing and is a featured speaker at investment conferences, trade shows, colleges and startup events. He’s a published writer with articles appearing in several prestigious trade magazine including The Licensing Journal, Intellectual Property Magazine, and License India. Rand also mentors at the Cal State Fullerton School of Business and Economics and is a judge for their startup business plan competitions.