Robert J. Incollingo, Esq.416 Black Horse Pike
Glendora, NJ 08029 856-234-3800 www.rjilaw.com
Introduction – Thermography is a Manufacturing Business
It takes no deep insight into human nature to understand that a worker values his input more highly than his output. Were it otherwise, we wouldn’t have unions. For the consumer, the equation is reversed. The product, rather than the process now past, is the only consideration at point of sale.
Thermographers naturally focus, if you will pardon the pun, on thermography as a service business, and would like to bill their customers accordingly. Thermographers know the personal cost of the training, experience, equipment, and work employed in making each image and report. Customers, on the other hand, care nothing about all that, and will pay for the pictures and reports only. To the customer, the rest is history and nobody pays for history.
If you will train your attention on your customer’s point of view, you will see that thermography is not a service business; thermography is a manufacturing business. This paper surveys some of the laws which govern the manufacture and sale of images and reports, which are the products of thermography.
Property Rights and the Products of Thermography
Images and reports have a dual existence in the eyes of the law, being composed of both tangible personal property and intangible intellectual property. As property, images and reports have associated legal rights and obligations for their authors, sellers, buyers, owners, and users.
The Bundle of Rights
In Merry Olde England, whence our laws on property (and words like “whence”) derive, the King owned the island and pretty much everything on it. William the Conqueror, our first pioneer, declared ownership of all the real estate in England on the day he took over the place. You may not have considered it, but the “real” in real estate means “royal”.
In order to cement their hold on all that real property, the kings and queens of England handed out lesser “estates”, or ownership interests, in the land and buildings under what we now call the feudal system. Under the feudal system, you did not fully own anything which was not subject to revert to the control of the king or to someone claiming under him. This was a break from what had been the law on the Continent, where if you owned something, you owned it completely. Over time, the novel concept of not owning things absolutely soaked into the English common law, and watered the seeds of modern commerce.
The metaphor used to illustrate this fertile concept is the “bundle of rights”, commonly depicted as bound sticks, where each stick betokens an incident of ownership, and together represent all of the rights which can be had in a piece of property. This “bundle of rights” includes the right to sell, the right to pass on to your heirs, the right to harvest, the right to destroy, the right to name, the right to withhold, the right to partition, the right to give, the right to manage, the right to transport, the right to enjoy, the right to possess, the right to lend or hire out, and more. Before taking it for granted that you own something, consider if all of these rights are yours exclusively.