Intangible Asset Poaching…

Michael D. Moberly, Principal, Founder, kpstrat

The word ‘poaching’ as I am applying it here, translates as the unethical – illegal access, acquisition, and/or use of intellectual, structural, and/or relationship capital (e.g., business operating – proprietary information) developed + held by others.

Poaching may be variously related to a lesser term, i.e., plagiarism, which many recognize as ‘taking someone else’s work product and/or ideas and passing them off – using same as one’s own’.

Now, 25+ years in, being a developer – holder of proprietary (business practice) information ala experiences which led to publishing a book, numerous professional papers, keynotes, various national – international engagements, and researching – writing 700+ blog posts…

  • some aspects of my work products and/or services, i.e., intangible assets I deem proprietary, have been – are being poached and plagiarized in ways + volumes (more) than I wish or I am able to identify.

On the very day my second book, titled ‘Safeguarding Intangible Assets’ ( was publicly available for online sale (insofar as I knew) I found it was already available in multiple (other than English) languages, unbeknownst to me and presumably absent tracts for distinguishing that (potential stream of) compensation to me. Frustrating, yes.

  • the samesimilar is frustrating also to businesses globally who learn – find their proprietary work products (ala intangible assets) have been unethically – illegally acquire and are being applied elsewhere – by others, allowing them to generate revenue and competitive advantage.

You may be assured, I presumed no illusion my second book was destined to be a ‘best seller’ or the books’ content would suddenly propel me to become a sought after guest speaker, advisor, or consultant, more so than what I had already – slowly achieved.

Today, and for the previous 20+ years, the word poaching has assumed a new context, technologically light years beyond its 16th century European private property origins, ala

  • the taking of others legally developed – held – owned – designated, and perhaps registered proprietary information and/or IP (intellectual property),
  • now, the intellectual and structural capital inputs (foundational content) embedded in – underlying most business operations and competitive advantages, i.e., knowledge = know how which translates as knowing how, when, and where to apply that knowledge.

Intellectual properties, as readers know = conventionally applied for, issued, and registered patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets are first, forms – categories of intangible assets, i.e., variations of intellectual, structural, relationship (human) capital applied competitively and lucratively.

This warrants our attention because…today, and for the foreseeable future, it is an irreversible economic fact, 80+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, competitiveness, and sustainability lie in – emerge directly from sustainable intangible asset inputs, i.e., intellectual, structural, and relationship capital.

I know of no business transaction (buy, sell, license, trade) negotiation that occurs today… domestically, or with a foreign based (nationalized) business, in which key intangible assets are not in play, e.g., in an unknown, but, be assured, not insignificant percentage of…business interactions – transactions, it is probable, perhaps inevitable that,

  • stealthy spectrums of illicit – unethical acts – behaviors intersecting with,
  • stealthy combinations of applied human – technological tradecraft will be a prelude to – method for ‘poaching’ valuable, competitive advantage, and revenue generating intangible assets ala forms -contexts of intellectual, structural, and relationship capital.

Particular intangible assets are targeted + sought, irrespective of registration or designation, because it is probable, once accessed and acquired, those assets may (1.) be rapidly replicated – re-constituted elsewhere, to (2.) generate immediate competitive advantage, value and streams of revenue, (3.) absent the preparatory time, resources, and costs, (4.) before the life – value cycles of those assets diminish.


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