I once interviewed Terry Nation, creator of the Daleks on Doctor Who and he told me: “The most important thing is to own property.”
He meant intellectual property (IP).
He owned intellectual property rights on the Daleks (although he did not design them) and so was paid every time they appeared on TV, on print or in any commercial spin-offs. The BBC staff member who actually designed them got nothing.
Yesterday, I was at the British Library’s Business & IP Centre and was told that, when ITV Digital went broke in 2002 and sold off its assets, the most valuable assets they had were rights to the woolly monkey which had appeared with Johnny Vegas in a series of TV ads for their network of channels. The monkey and its ads had been far more popular than the network itself.
The remaining woolly monkey toys were auctioned off at £150 each, but rights to the woolly monkey character itself (it has a unique design which can be copyrighted) were bought for far more, which is why, since 2007, the knitted simian superstar has been happily plugging PG Tips tea with Johnny Vegas.
I had forgotten the full drama of their tear-jerking TV reunion, which can be seen on YouTube HERE.