Archive for November, 2011

Why Its Important For Researchers and Entrepreneurs To Safeguard Their Intangible Assets

November 30th, 2011. Published under Due Diligence and Risk Assessments, Enterprise risk management., Intangible asset protection. No Comments.

 Michael D. Moberly    November 30, 2011

Answer: Because 65+% of a research project’s value reside in intangible assets!

1.  Proof of IP ownership no longer equates with control, use or the ability to ensure future economic benefits…

Traditional IP enforcement (protections) are routinely outpaced, circumvented and disregarded by a growing worldwide cadre of infringers, misappropriators and commercial intelligence operations. In this environment, hoped for deterrent effects of traditional IP rights protections diminish rapidly. 

2. Protection-value preservation should be designed to last for the life-value cycle of the asset, not necessarily for the life time of a company…

Competitive advantages largely evolve from getting an idea to the market first, and for some R&D projects and companies, the source of value is that race to market, not permanent protection of intellectual property. (Peter Likins)

3.  Computer/IT security is not synonymous with protecting know how…

Information-based (intangible) assets exist in many formats (other than electronic bits and bytes) which are vulnerable and not protected by computer/IT security, digital rights and authentication management.

4.  It’s not just another risk of doing business…

Ultra-sophisticated and predatorial commercial and state sponsored intelligence operations worldwide make every researcher’s and company’s innovation, intangible assets, strategic plans and competitive advantages attractive and vulnerable 24×7.  Probabilities (risks) are rapidly becoming inevitabilities relative to loss and/or value shrinkage when not addressed.

5.  Know when, what, how, and who…

Far too many researchers and companies lose, inadvertently relinquish and/or become legally entangled in disputes and challenges over the ownership, control, and use of their intangible assets – competitive advantages.  The most frequent reasons are not knowing (precisely) what should be protected and preserved, when it should be, and from what and whom.

Assessing Your Company’s Intangible Assets: Why It’s Important Now!

November 29th, 2011. Published under Fiduciary Responsibility, Intangible asset assessments/audits., Intangible Asset Value, Uncategorized. No Comments.

 Michael D. Moberly   November 29, 2011

“If it can’t be measured, it can’t be managed”, an adage attributed to Peter Drucker that, in my view, carries more relevance today than when it was initially uttered.  That’s because increasing percentages (65+%) of company’s value, sources of revenue, and foundations for growth evolve directly from intangible assets including intellectual properties, proprietary know how, brand, goodwill, etc.

 In fact, there is no other time in company governance history when measuring and managing the value of knowledge-based assets (intangibles) is more necessary to a company’s growth and profitability.

 By consistently monitoring – assessing the value of a company’s intangibles, management teams can be positioned to recognize, in a timely manner any:

  • erosion – undermining of asset value and competitive advantages through misappropriation, infringement, and counterfeiting
  • materiality changes in assets relative to Sarbanes-Oxley and FASB
  • asset obsolescence

 Asset valuation must constitute much more than periodic snap-shots-in-time however. Rather, it behooves management teams today to have on-going asset valuation processes because (asset market and company relevance) value and materiality can fluctuate relative to the assets’ vulnerability – attractivity to internal and external influences such as theft, misappropriation, infringement, etc. 

 When such adverse events occur, an assets’ value and competitive advantage deliverance, i.e., stability, defensibility, and fragility can be significantly impaired hence, a company’s (project’s) anticipated profitability and sustainability can rapidly be undermined or stifled altogether.

 Again, by being able to consistently monitor and measure the value of key assets, companies and their management teams can be more responsive to:

  • the inevitable challenges, disputes, and external targeting that routinely occurs
  • meeting their ever expanding fiduciary responsibilities insofar as protecting, preserving, strengthening, and managing their intangibles.
  • allocating – directing asset protection resources more efficiently and effectively commensurate with an assets’ life and contributory value cycle.

University Spin Off Companies: Better Management and Stewardship Of Intangibles Can Speed Up The Commercialization Process?

November 22nd, 2011. Published under Corporate - University Research, Intangibles as strategic assets, University R&D. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly     November 22, 2011

Intuitively, the speed which a (university-based) spin-off company can deliver its invention is a critical factor to its overall success and attractivity for (continued, future) investment. The question presented here is, can consistent stewardship, oversight, and management of the ancillary-complimentary intangible assets which are integral by-products to faculty researcher inventions make the process quicker?

A quick, but obviously biased, answer is an unequivocal yes!

More convincingly though, in a still relevant study produced by Ans Heirman and Bart Clarysse formerly of Ghent University and now with ScientificCommons, put forth the notion in their paper titled ‘Do Intangible Assets at Start-Up Matter for Innovation Speed?’

In their paper, the authors found that intangible assets such as:
• start-up management team and founder experience, tenure, routines, and cross-functionality
• alliance and/or collaboration agreements with other relevant parties and organizations
…combine to serve as important and contributing factors to innovation speed in terms of execution.

Experienced entrepreneurs know innovation speed, i.e., time to market for new product launches is important for many reasons, key among them are to gain:
• early investment to achieve more (greater) financial independence,
• broader external visibility and legitimacy as quickly as possible,
• early competitive advantages, i.e., market position and possibly market share.

The researchers in the aforementioned study acknowledge innovation/development cycles can vary relative to, among other things, phases of product development tasks and phases, and the technologies required, etc., among other variables.
Again, no surprise here, other than making the argument once again, that identifying individual and/or inter-connected clusters of intangible assets that frequently emerge as ancillary and complimentary by-products of faculty research and innovation should not be dismissed, overlooked, or neglected as potential (and additional) sources of value, revenue, and literally potential ‘building blocks’ to compliment (future) innovation.

University – Corporate Research Consortiums: Are More Safeguards Necessary…

November 21st, 2011. Published under Corporate - University Research, Intellectual Property Rights, University R&D. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly    November 21, 2011

Within the university research community, there remain spirited and polarizing debates about the openness in which research is conducted, that is, the freedom and ability of faculty researchers to disseminate, communicate, collaborate, and publish at will, which incidentally, have long been recognized as the hallmarks of university-based research.

On one side of that debate stand those who favor retaining the long legitimated hallmarks of academic freedom. On the other side of the debate stand those who encourage safeguards be put in place to limit, set parameters for, if not prohibit some of the at will or discretionary freedoms conveyed in the former view.

There’s nothing particularly new about these opposing views. They have been espoused in essentially the same context since the 16th century. Experience suggests there is little middle ground on which to frame a consensus, bar one. That is, to dispassionately factor into the university-corporate research protection equation the realities embedded in today’s hyper-competitive, predatorial, and winner-take-all global R&D environment.

This can be particularly interesting in instances in which faculty generated research and/or an inventions produce special insights and findings that lead to valuable (business) competitive advantages that may extend not just to the primary corporate (research) sponsor, but eventually to other companies in that industry sector.

So, a key question for corporate – university research collaborations are the above realities sufficiently persuasive to ensure the inclusion of information asset safeguards to mitigate university generated data/research be overly vulnerable to theft, infringement, or compromise stemming primarily from sophisticated state sponsored global business intelligence collection operations.

These are acts which, if even reasonably successful will most certainly dilute if not irrevocably impair the research’ strategic value to the inventor and research sponsor. It can also allow competitors (globally) to gain substantial advance insights to permit them to achieve economic, competitive, and market entry advantages.

Walk me through-a-day-in-the-life of university research…An analogy may be useful as a potential starting point to advance this principled tug-of-war. For example, when company representatives go before a venture capital firm to seek funding, one of the series of questions (scenarios) a venture capitalist (VC) will invariably pose to obtain a better sense of the usefulness and viability of the product or service being pitched. Routinely, they will ask a company representative to ’walk them through’ a-day-in-the-life of a (target market) company in which the product or service being pitched is not currently in use.

The VC’s follow-up questions will then be framed as:
• is there a noticeable difference?
• will the company be better off?
• if so, what and how will those differences manifest and are they exploitable insofar as delivering economic and/or competitive advantages to benefit the company?, i.e., to become more profitable?, gain/retain customers?, create efficiencies?, improve morale?, etc.

It’s conceivable that a comparable, but objective and dispassionate ’walk me through a day in the life’ approach would be useful to advance the time honored academic freedom debate about faculty generated research and inventions.

Key (objective) questions that could be posed then to a faculty researcher such as:
• consider their ability to sustain unchallenged control, use, ownership, and value of their invention throughout its value-life cycle
• what does the researcher, research sponsor, and the university consider to be minimum foundation(s) for retaining viable options for (future) licensing and/or technology transfer?