Inventors, Inventions, Intangible Assets!

Michael D. Moberly     March 14, 2014     ‘A long  form blog where attention span really matters’!

A starting point to achieving success!  Whether you are part of a management team for a start-up, university-based research spin-off, or a young and still maturing firm built around a single invention, acknowledging and engaging the often multiple intangible assets embedded in that invention is an essential piece to the broader (strategic) puzzle for achieving commercialization success.

But first, as I often do here, let’s start with the unwavering economic fact that today, 80+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, and ‘building blocks’ for growth, profitability, and sustainability lie in or evolve directly from intangible assets! And, that percentage is likely to be substantially higher for early stage endeavors.

To serve as a strategically viable path to best achieve that desired end, I have compiled a series of essential questions which of course are related to the intangible assets most every invention produces as potentially ‘commercializable’ by-products.  Respectfully, I encourage readers (inventors) to avoid assuming these questions need only be asked or answered once and then pushed aside so presumably more important issues can be addressed related to make a start-up an on-going and viable concern.

Instead, the questions I have framed below should be periodically or even routinely re-visited.  My rationale is, acknowledging and effectively utilizing intangible assets which inhabit most every firm and frame its culture from inception, particularly intellectual, structural, and relationship capital and reputation will rapidly manifest, with the proper stewardship, oversight, and management, to become the keys to not just the commercialization success of a single invention, rather serve as ‘building blocks’ for a firms’ growth, profitability, and overall sustainability.

So, here are questions which business management teams and decision makers should be repeatedly asking.  For a list of intangible assets please see

  1. Are intangible assets consistent discussion (action) items in management team meetings?
  2. Do inventors’ – management teams know what percentage of contributory value (of their invention) lies in or evolves directly from intangible assets?
  3. Can inventors site specific and/or additional intangible asset(s) emanating from their research (invention)?
  4. Can inventors describe specifically how that – those assets will contribute to the inventions’ value, projected sources of revenue, and competitive advantages, i.e., commercialization?
  5. Is an inventory and/or audit of the contributing intangible assets driving and/or emanating from the invention being maintained, regularly assessed, and updated?
  6. If so, does the inventory-audit include an objective assessment of how, whether, or which contributory intangible assets continue to hold value, materiality and relevance to the invention and its inevitable spin-off company’s core mission and strategic plan?
  7. How are the inventions’ contributing intangible assets being managed, i.e., sustain control, use, ownership and monitor their value, materiality, and risk?
  8. Can you objectively assess which (contributory) intangible assets hold the highest investor appeal – attractivity, or market value, etc., if bundled, sold, licensed, or used in a separate strategic alliance and/or joint venture?
  9. Can inventors objectively identify which invention-related intangible assets are most vulnerable to risk, i.e., infringement, misappropriation, premature leakage, counterfeiting, etc.?
  10. Is there an organizational resilience (continuity – contingency) plan in place that specifically includes contributory intangible asset risk/threat mitigation and rapid recovery from the adverse impact of materialized risk(s)?

Reader comments and inquires are always welcome at 314-440-3593 (St. Louis) or [email protected].

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