UTP: Episode 40: Solo: Intellectual Property and the Danger of Public Entanglements. Outline


  • Introduction to me and how to connect with me


  1. I’m an entertainment and digital media law attorney and I help influencers and creative entrepreneurs who struggle with navigating the legal side of their businesses and brands, specifically as it relates to contracts. I really pride myself on helping creatives negotiate fair deals with Fortune 500 companies and leading entertainment brands, all while helping them build legally sound businesses that are built for generational wealth and impact. A huge part of what I do with my 1-on-1 clients, and beyond is to educate influencers and creatives on the business of influence, so they can not only protect themselves and their pockets, but so they can really leverage every opportunity. So here on the podcast, I normally do that through sharing the stories of successful entrepreneurs and influencers to help you learn from their mistakes. But occasionally, like today, I switch things up and highlight popular culture. 


  • A brief background of the events and how they relate:


  1. Nick Cannon was recently fired from ViacomCBS due to controversial comments on his podcast. The shocker is that he does not own the Wild ‘N Out trademark. He demands full ownership of the brand he created, from the company.
  1. Michaela Coel (Makala Cole), actress, screenwriter, and Forbes 30 under 30 alumni, recently made news when she revealed that she rejected an offer from Netflix for her show I May Destroy You, due to not wanting to give up full ownership.
  1. Understanding your intellectual property rights, and leveraging them in contract negotiations. 


  • IP Overview


  1. What is IP?
    1. Intellectual property (IP) is intangible property that relates to creations of the mind.  This covers a wide variety of property created by musicians, authors, artists, and inventors.
    2. IP law is intended to encourage creativity for the public’s benefit
    3. IP law gives creators rights, and protects those rights 
    4. IP is protectable under either Copyright, Trademark, and/or Patent
  1. What’s the difference between copyrights and trademarks?
    1. Copyrights – Original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression. Ideas don’t count!
      1. Examples: blog and social media posts, songs, plays, artwork, film productions, architectural works, and choreography
      1. Examples: business name, slogan, and logo
    2. Trademarks – Distinctive words, phrases, symbols, devices, or a combination of these things that identify the source of goods or services.


  1. Nick Cannon and Michaela Coel 
    1. Nick’s demand for rights
      1. Likely demanding rights in the actual content, which would pertain to copyrights. As a copyright owner you have exclusive rights (the 6 exclusive rights) in your work. (visit copyright.gov for a breakdown of these rights). 
      2. Where things get sticky for Nick is whether he maintained any of these rights during his initial negotiations with Viacom. Was Wild n’ Out a concept he’d already developed before securing a deal with Viacom or was it something that Viacom helped him develop? Huge difference in how you leverage in negotiations.
      3. In contrast, we see Michaela who already had a show she’d developed and was then pitching to Netflix. She understood her rights, fought for them, and secured a deal with HBO where she is keeping her rights. 
      4. Nick’s trademark – shocked that the network hadn’t already trademarked Wild n’ Out. In most entertainment industry contracts, ownership of the name of the project or the talent’s performer name is addressed in the initial contract and up for negotiation. 
  1. Key Takeaways


  1. Understand the rights you have as an IP owner and protect those rights asap – If you already own it you can leverage it in negotiations
  2. Understand what IP you may be creating with someone else, how those percentages breakdown, and protect the portions you do own
  3. Understand how other people can use your rights with your permission (this is known as licensing) and what you should charge them – This requires research and understanding your industry or connecting with someone who does *contract review sessions

Check out this episode!