Intangible Assets and New Product Launches: Keeping Your Genie’s In Their Bottle!

Michael D. Moberly   June 12, 2012

Achieving successful and sustainable new product and innovation launches is increasingly dependent on management teams recognizing…

  1. 65+% of most innovation’s value, projected sources of revenue, and potential ‘building blocks’ for growth and expansion evolve directly from the contributory nature and value of intangible assets, i.e., the intertwined combinations and collaborations of specialized and/or proprietary know how and intellectual capital associated with the innovation’s development.
  2. the absolute importance that must be attached to ensuring the’ innovation genie’ remains in its respective bottle through its respective life – value cycle, i.e., effectively protecting, preserving (sustaining) control, use, ownership, and defensibility of the innovation’s key elements.

Obviously, ‘keeping the innovation genie in its bottle’ is a metaphor, albeit a very important one, whereby innovation management teams are obligated to identify and monitor the role, contribution, and value which the intangible assets make to the innovation’s launch, their exposure to risks and threats, and again, throughout the innovation’s life-value cycle.

In other words, continuous monitoring of key aspects of the innovation genie’s status is critical. A key reason is that there are an ever growing number of sophisticated strategies that economic and competitive advantage adversaries use to extract innovation genie’s from their proverbial bottle.  The absence of effective innovation asset management and oversight can and frequently does lead to misappropriation, theft, product counterfeiting and/or piracy.

Any one of those risks-threats materialized, will undermine product launch success and adversely affect the innovation’s value, competitive advantages, and relevance within its market space.  The probability that risks-threats to innovation assets will materialize, while dependent on several factors, it would be quite correct to assume they will continue to rise globally.

An essential requisite for any innovation management team who aspires to achieve even partial recovery of their compromised innovation (intangible) assets is having effective asset monitoring practices in place to not just prevent or mitigate any adverse effects from materialized risks, but also to know precisely when a compromise occurred and the precipitating factors.

Too, a thorough intangible asset – competitive advantage assessment should commence immediately following a compromise to determine precisely what aspects of the innovation were actually compromised – acquired and how it will impact the products’ launch and the business as a whole. This assessment and business impact analysis are, of course, essential to achieving any semblance of hope of recovering any of the innovation’s assets, if there is to be any.

These assessments and analysis can aid innovation management teams to be better positioned to deliberate on two important points:

1. the circumstances, priorities, and options relative to trying to (re-) establish ownership and/or (re-) obtain control and use of the, by now, economically and value hemorrhaged assets.

2. strategies to try to stop and/or mitigage further economic -competitive advantage hemorrhaging (of the assets), i.e., devaluation, undermining, infringement, misappropriation, etc.

And, of course, any delays in discovering a compromise and seeking experienced guidance about what actions to take, and when, can complicate and even weaken a company’s (legal) position for achieving even partial recovery from the multiple adversaries that are likely to be involved.

Realistically, returning an innovation asset genie to its rightful owners, i.e., bottle, in a manner in which some, or more preferably, most of its market space attractivity and competitive advantages remain reasonably intact, is not particularly high in today’s increasingly predatorial business environment.

Risk-threats to a companies’ innovation (intangible) assets should not be dismissed lightly or characterized as merely ‘just another risk of doing business’ particularly in today’s increasingly competitive, predatorial, and winner-take-all (global) business transaction – new product launch environment.

Far too many companies though lose, inadvertently relinquish, and/or their innovation assets become entangled or ensnared in costly, time consuming, and momentum stifling legal disputes and challenges, primarily over aspects of ownership, control, use, and value.

There are many different views about what it takes to sustain a successful (new) product – idea launch and its eventual commercialization.  Obviously, having a very attractive and commercializable product along with sufficient capital to execute a well-researched business plan and marketing strategy represent a few of the traditional and necessary ingredients.

But, an often overlooked and underestimated ingredient to sustaining a successful business-idea launch is recognizing that unlike patents, trademarks, and/or copyrights, the USPTO does not issue, to the launching company, a certificate that says, these are your valuable innovation (intangible) assets, proprietary know how, intellectual capital, and competitive advantages, protect them!

Instead, the responsibility for recognizing that those assets exist and unraveling how they individually and collectively contribute to an innovation and then converted into value, sources of revenue, is solely the responsibility and discretion of the innovation’s management team and board.

Admittedly, today’s hyper-competitive go fast, go hard, go global business transaction and new product launch environment may not always allow sufficient time for innovation management teams to reflect on, address, and budget for the persistent and asymmetric nature of risks and threats to companies intangible (innovation) assets..

Continuing to hedge (neglect) these assets essential maintenance, i.e., protect, preserve, monitor their use, ownership, and value, can cause risk-threat probabilities to become inevitabilities in which complete or partial (asset) value erosion-dilution is likely to occur, which in turn, creates parameters-boundaries to a companies’ economic-competitive position capabilities and potential.



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