Michael D. Moberly May 11, 2009
It’s an economic fact – business reality that growing percentages of company value, sources of revenue, sustainability, and future wealth creation are directly linked to their intellectual property and intangible assets. Ensuring control, use, ownership and value of those assets for the duration of their functional (value) life cycle is the key, in large part due to the assets’ increasing (in play) relevance in transactions, joint ventures, collaborations, and various other forms of business alliances a company may engage.
Unlike patents, trademarks, or copyrights though, there is no certificate issued by the government that says, ‘the real value of most company’s lie in its intangible assets, competitive advantages, proprietary know how, brand, reputation, image, and goodwill, etc. Instead, identifying, protecting, preserving, and monitoring the value, status, stability, fragility, and sustainability of those assets falls exclusively to (top down) management teams, c-suites, and D&O’s.
Intangible asset and IP value are not static! Valuation of those assets absolutely cannot be ‘measured’ using one-size fits all, or snap-shots-in-time formats. Doing so, provides little, if any, strategic (post deal) context to asset value. For the most part, those assets are unique and specific to each company and their particular market space. Once any of those assets’ is compromised or infringed however, its economic value, market position, and competitive advantages can begin hemorrhaging immediately, globally, and irretrievably!
And also, intangible assets and intellectual property are no longer the exclusive beneficiary of conventional IP enforcements or deterrents, largely because the global infringement, misappropriation, theft, counterfeiting, competitor intelligence, data mining, and economic espionage industries have literally become economically, socially, and culturally embedded in many country’s GDP! Effectively thawrting (reducing the global market influence of counterfeits and pirated products) is a long term and collective initiative in which U.S. companies should not expect to see noticeable change for 5 to 10 years.
And, once IP, trade secrets, proprietary know how are gone, they are probably gone forever. A company’s core assets and competitive advantages can be quickly gleaned, analyzed, and applied by sophisticated and predatorial data mining technologies and rapidly growing ‘over night’ economic – competitive adversaries, i.e., infringers, counterfeiters, information brokers, etc. Compromised know how, IP, sensitive business and/or R&D information and proprietary competitive advantages can be instantaneously produced and dispursed globally at which point a company’s (holders, owners’) hard earned ‘value’ and ‘competitive advantages’ become largely irreplaceable, irretrievable, and extraodinarily costly and time consuming to pursue!