To Have, Possess or Own

Recently I read again about a development in copyright. This time it involved chefs who claimed copyright over their dishes. In doing so they claim making a picture of a dish infringes on their work and/or creation. Reread that again and check out this article on Techdirt. Then ask yourself how this makes sense and why. This forces me to rethink the meaning of “to have”, “to posses” and “to own.”

The context of these verbs is that in the situation of providing a product and/or service and/or experience the entrepreneur has a source of revenue. Having this source, means possessing the materials and facilities to own the idea and concept to “the extent” that enables registering a trademark and derivative rights which apply to the specific situation.

Whatever the situation may be, “the extent” of owning an idea and concept is the vague part. Depending on your financial capital, experience, knowledge and business model your source of revenue can be specific or unspecific. At best the entrepreneur owns an intellectual property, either documented or a trade secret. At worst the entrepreneur has a source of revenue that is not unique, common and available everywhere.

Add copyright and the 21st century. Copyright is the ownership a person has over his or her work or creation unless that person signs it off or gives it away. To enforce that ownership “having a claim” is not enough. You must possess some convincing evidence that you worked on your work or creation. Then you publish or present your presentation to the audience under your own name, alias or business entity name. After that “fact” you really own the copyright to your work or creation. Think of Turner Barr versus Adecco.

The issue distinguishing having, possessing and owning also extends to everyday life. Sometimes what you think you purchase is not what you actually own, like a phone subscription with additional phone offered by the provider. Go further and try buying a house. When you cannot pay the entire price immediately you pay in parts for a mortgage which makes you the inhabitant until you paid the loan provider what you owe. After the final payment you actually own your house.

To have, depends on the context. To possess depends on the context. To own also depends on the context.

When you really think about all this everything becomes relative…


  1. Quite informative. If the source of income is common, then I think that the copyrights shouldn’t be valid, however. But I can’t come up with an example right now.

    1. In the private sector where businesses compete your source of revenue, thus your product, service or experience for your target customers has to be protected with something. So pick a brand name, trademark registration and everything your business (entity) publishes or presents is copyrighted.

      Look at coffee brands, luxury brands and car manufacturers. The Volkswagen Group and GM are interesting cases. Copyright is so easy to abuse at the cost of individuals and smaller enterprises though.

      Look at WordPress, you want your blog to stand out right? Pick a name, register it and buy the domain. This topic deserves our serious attention.

    2. No, I absolutely agree with this, I meant for example Disney’s copyright of the Happy Birthday song – It shouldn’t be allowed to own it.

    3. Well more money, more lawyers so they can abuse the system. We can only protest with our wallets and massive disagreement. Wallets are more effective…

    4. 🙂
      Tidbit: Car manufacturers don’t copyright developments in safety, so that newer techniques can be applied by other manufacturers as well for overall safety.

      It would be a lot better if the phone manufacturers too can standardise safety/body (batteries are already so, they don’t make their own). But the competition means they wont.

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