Albert Einstein, who died in 1955, earned $18 million last year.
Charles M. Schulz, whose PEANUTS characters live on in syndicated reprints, earned even more.
Ted Geisel, who will live forever in his timeless Cat in the Hat and Lorax and Sneetches and wacky machinery, earned more yet.
We all know you can’t take it with you, but you can keep earning it even when you’re not here to earn it. Well, not you, but the value of your intellectual property can carry on after you go gently into that good night.
Thus, if you’re the owner of any intellectual property at all, you need to bother protecting it. Whether you benefit from the protection personally or not, your heirs may very well benefit from it.
If the copyright in your work of authorship isn’t registered, register it. It costs $45 in the US, plus the time to fill in the Copyright Office’s #$% form if you do it yourself; it’s a bit more expensive to hire an attorney to do this for you, but you stand a better chance of successfully battling off any challenge that the Copyright Office might mount to your registration.
If the trademark that you’ve been using to designate your goods or services in commerce isn’t registered, register it. This is more involved than is copyright registration and you really should have an attorney do this for you.
While we pay lip service to the common-law rights of an intellectual property owner, registration of intellectual property rights provides significantly — SIGNFICANTLY — more and better protection.
IP can be passed on to another by will. You need to work with your attorney who handles your will and estate in concert with your attorney who handles intellectual property matters (and these are probably two different lawyers) to properly protect and pass on your IP. Your IP is a valuable part of your estate and needs to be treated every bit as decisively as does the dining room table or the computer or the … whatever.
After all, Einstein earned $18 million last year for his estate; why shouldn’t you do that after you’re gone?