Identifying Key Business Intangible Assets To Protect

Business leaders are obliged today to protect their key intangible assets…the first step is to acquire operational level familiarity with their company’s intangible assets, one part of which, is achieved by distinguishing their two primary forms…

  • Legal intangible assets…grant legal property rights that are definable and defensible in courts of law. They include copyrights, trade secrets, patents, and trademarks, etc., which have been applied for and registered with a relevant government agency. In the U.S. intellectual property awards and registration is overseen by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  Legal defensibility of individual – corporate held intellectual properties against infringement, theft, misappropriation, etc., in the U.S., comes with the proviso that each rightful holder has practices in place to monitor (asset) risks and knowing when-if illegal acts have – are occurring in a timely manner.
  • Competitive intangible assets…directly impact-contribute to a company’s effectiveness, efficiency, productivity, customer service, market value, and even share price. Competitive intangible assets generally arise from worthy and consistent inputs of human (intellectual, structural, and relationship) capital.

As company’s globally, become more intangible asset intensive and dependent…either-both forms of intangible assets, often collectively, serve as the keys to their respective sources of value, revenue generation, performance, competitiveness, and sustainability.

Security (asset safeguard) executives also are obliged to recognize that…intangible assets and the value, sources of revenue, and competitive advantages they produce…

  • are generally anchored in distinctive, often proprietary, features, processes, or programs which (collectively) set a company apart. (Michael D. Moberly)
  • often evolve over time within a company or business unit, and may not always be the result of a specific planned action or the product of specific capital allocation decisions. (adapted by Michael D. Moberly from the fine work of The Brookings Institution’s Intangibles Project)
  • can be unique blends (combinations, collections) of activities, assets, relationships, history, and market conditions that an organization exploits in order to differentiate itself from competitors, and thus create value. (adapted by Michael D. Moberly from the fine work of Michael Porter, Harvard Business Review)
  • often arise from – are embedded in a company’s unique proprietary knowledge, and the special value that comes with understanding (how, when, why, and the circumstances) to apply that knowledge. (adapted by Michael D. Moberly from the fine work stemming from the McKinsey Quarterly, 2004)

Security (asset safeguard) executives are also obliged to examine...each of the following (obvious, less obvious) examples (of intangible assets) relative to…

  • specialized practices – policies that may be necessary to sustain their control, use, ownership, and value throughout each category of assets’ life-value-functionality-materiality cycle, and
  • whether – how some variant may be applicable to their company, and
  • is designated and/or can be claimed as being proprietary.

1. Technology-Software: generally, internally developed and proprietary; examples include copyrights, databases, source codes, and enterprise-custom applications, etc…

2. Marketing: examples include musical jingles (lyrics) promotional-marketing characters, devices, photographs, video, newsletters, advertising concepts, and focus group analyses, etc….

3. Engineering: designs of new equipment and the technical know how…

4. Customer-Client communications: mailing lists, data bases, retrieval systems, specialized distribution channels, 1-800 numbers, ala relationship capital…

5. Competitive Research: actionable business intelligence ala plans, intentions, capabilities…

6. Real Estate: zoning, construction permits, air, water, mineral (land) exploration-exploitation rights, right-of-way, easements, and building (expansion) plans-rights…

7. Training: manuals describing distinctive operations, processes, and procedures, etc…

8. Website: domain names, logos, design, e-commerce capabilities, weblinks, distinctive customer-client accessibility and use…

9. Products-Services: trade dress, i.e., shapes, color schemes, packaging design and graphics, etc., warranties, open purchase orders, order and/or product back log…

10. Corporate Identity: trade name, trademarks, logos…

11. Contracts-Agreements: any contract that has a definable life span and some form of exclusivity, i.e.,

  • supply, media, performance, pricing, licensing, royalties, advertising.
  • construction, management, services, leases.
  • broadcast-operating rights, licenses.
  • route utilization.
  • franchise agreements.
  • subscription rights.
  • futures contracts.
  • co-branding agreements including endorsements, spokesperson contracts, venue naming rights, etc.

12. Intellectual Property: patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, trade name, service marks, mastheads, logo design, prior art search, flanker patents, patent applications, foreign patents, reprints, use/performance rights…

13. R&D: product (pro-con) research studies, findings, formulas, processes, and assembly data, and status with relevant regulatory agency…

14. Communication: cable – terrestrial transmission rights, FCC licenses, certifications, bandwidth, etc…

15. Human Resources: wage rates, union contracts, non-compete and non-disclosure agreements (if transferrable)…

16. Structural Capital: specific (business) structures and processes developed-deployed internally and intended to increase productivity and performance, method patents, etc…

17. Human Capital: totality of employee specialties, i.e.,

  • skills, abilities, competencies, documented technical know how documentation.
  • lab notebooks, manuals, formulas, processes, recipes.
  • attitude, morale.

These examples of intangible assets were largely gleaned from Mr. Moberly’s professional and business experiences, in addition to…

  • ‘The Intangible Asset Handbook: Maximizing Value From Intangible Assets’ authored by Weston Anson, and
  • ‘Untangling Intangibles’ authored by Tamara Plakalo.

Michael D. Moberly June 1, 2018 St. Louis [email protected] ‘The Intangible Asset Blog’ https://kpstrat.com/blog where one’s attention span, intangible assets, and solutions converge!

Readers are invited to explore more blog posts, papers, and books at https://kpstrat.com/books

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