Safeguarding Intangible Assets, Economic Facts Shaping The Future

There are two parallel economic facts which are shaping the future of…safeguarding companies’ proprietary intangible assets, which collectively elevate (a.) vulnerability, (b.) probability, and (b.) criticality to theft, misappropriation, and infringement.

The initial and most significant and globally universal economic fact is…the repeatedly proven recognition that 80+% of most companies’ value, sources of revenue, competitiveness, and future wealth creation potential today, lie in – emerge directly from knowledge and know how based (intangible assets) which play contributory roles and value to the development of intellectual properties, among numerous other assets.

As this economic fact (business operating reality) is more consistently understood and applied…insofar as influencing company management teams to re-orient their strategies, policies, and processes with respect to how (their) intangible assets develop, the various ways they can be exploited to generate revenue, create value, and produce-deliver sustainable competitive advantages.

Similarly, this economic fact (80+% of company value lie in intangible assets) will influence… ‘corporate information suites’ to shift their attitudes and a proportional percentage of their resources away from previous conceptions that information safeguards are relevant only to the physical-tangible categories of assets and/or IT safeguards.

Of course, Sarbanes-Oxley (302, 404) and FASB (141, 142) mandate…publicly traded companies account – report the value and materiality changes of their intangible assets. Collectively, these have elevated awareness (about intangibles) and prompted some forward looking management teams to adjust their asset safeguard practices to reflect intangibles.

The second fact is the persistence and asymmetric arrays of threats and risks…to companies’ proprietary information and trade secrets which was reflected in the findings of a still very relevant study, in my judgment, produced in May, 2005, by the U.S. Department of Defense, Personnel Security Research Center (PERSEREC).

Below are five key findings of that PERSEREC study, which respectfully, in my view, companies are already variously experiencing… 

1. Fewer employees are deterred (from engaging in insider theft of information assets) by a traditional sense of loyalty to their employer…

2. Employees are less inclined to view espionage – theft of information assets as morally wrong, instead, they may view such as acts as having some moral justifiability if they feel that sharing (that) information will benefit the world community or prevent armed conflict…

3. There is an inclination held by those engaged in multi-national trade and transactions to regard unauthorized transfer of information assets or technology as a (a.) business matter rather than (b.) an act of betrayal or treason…

4. There is a growing allegiance (among employees) to a global community, i.e., an increasing acceptance of (a.) global as well as (b.) national values.

To be sure, there are some potentially troublesome aspects to these findings…particularly the tendency – inclination to view human (global) society as evolving systems of ethnically and ideologically diverse and interdependent persons and groups in which illicit acts (such as theft of trade secrets, etc.) are less challenging to personally rationalize.

My efforts to frame the above facts as parallels, in my judgment, is realistic…but also, intended to draw attention to the economic fact that companies intangible assets are now the overwhelmingly dominant economic – competitive advantage drivers.  In that regard, it is essential that management team fiduciary responsibilities fully encompass the art and science of ‘sustaining (safeguarding, preserving) control, use, ownership of the assets contributory role and value throughout their respective life-value-materiality cycle.  The reason, if neither is effectively monitored and sustained, value and competitive advantage will become diluted, erode, and/or wholly circumvented!

Technical Report 05-10 May 2005, Research Conducted by Defense Personnel Security Research Center
‘Technological, Social, and Economic Trends That Are Increasing U.S. Vulnerability to Insider Espionage’ 
Lisa A. Kramer, Richards J. Heuer, Jr., and Kent S. Crawford

Michael D. Moberly June 29, 2018 St. Louis [email protected] ‘The Intangible Asset Blog’ where one’s attention span, business realities, and solutions converge!

Readers are invited to examine other relevant resources, i.e., books, papers, blog posts I have published, including a book I authored, titled ‘Safeguarding Intangible Assets’ at

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