Intangible Asset Continuity – Contingency Planning…

Michael D. Moberly   August 22, 2008     (Part Two of a Two Part Post)

Terrorism, hurricanes, earthquakes, and cyber attacks have changed…the landscape of business continuity and contingency planning forever!

Another, but often overlooked, reality…that has prompted changes in continuity-contingency planning is the economic fact that today 80+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, and competitiveness, etc., lie in – directly emerge from intangible assets, e.g., intellectual property, proprietary know how and competitive advantages, structural and relationship capital, etc., which, as has been witnessed on countless occasions, become dispersed, inaccessible, and virtually irretrievable.

When those assets are not integral elements to continuity-contingency planning….e.g., sustain, safeguard, preserve control, use, ownership, and value, recovery becomes much more difficult, certainly less likely, and sometimes impossible.

An important point to recognize is that, for the most part…intangible assets cannot be purchased off-the-shelf, to immediately replenish those lost when a catastrophe or business calamity occurs,

As for today’s knowledge-driven – intangible asset intensive and dependent firms…continuity-contingency planning, i.e., becoming organizationally resilient, are fiduciarily obligations to distinguish the intangible assets known to be essential to achieving a speedy, efficient, complete, and uncontested economic and competitive advantage recovery.

In this regard there are four basic planning considerations with respect to intangible assets, IP, proprietary know how, and competitive advantages:

1. accountants and auditors should be included to determine the status and stability of Sarbanes-Oxley, FASB, and other control mandates, e.g., will/did breaches, compromises, or materiality changes occur that adversely affect the assets…

2. collaboration with intellectual property counsel is warranted to, among other things, help conduct asset inventories, assess claims, re-establish control of the assets, and when necessary, commence investigations of misappropriation, breaches, compromises, infringement, and/or counterfeiting that are likely to occur during adverse events…

3. examine employee non-compete, non-disclosure (confidentiality), non-disparagement agreements relative to ensuring key employee know how and intellectual-relationship capital is retained (post disaster) necessary for a more prompt and fuller recovery…

4. describe how to sustain ‘trade secrecy – proprietary status’ of designated information assets in circumstances in which the adverse event required evacuation or dispersal of not only the knowledge holders, but, the knowledge-based assets that deliver value, revenue, and competitive advantages…

It’s worthy of mentioning again, 80+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, and competitiveness are the product of intellectual – structural capital.  So businesses are encouraged to not overlook or dismiss intangibles’ relationship to a speedier, more complete, and uncontested recovery!


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