‘The Intangible Asset Handbook’ – A Book Review

Michael D. Moberly   October 12, 2009

‘The Intangible Asset Handbook: Maximizing Value From Intangible Assets’ by Weston Anson is one of those rare business (management) books that should always be close at hand as a forward looking/thinking reference (reminder) of the sometimes hidden and/or under-the-radar value of a company’s intangible assets.

Essentially, Anson’s book achieves three important objectives to benefit the business community’s recognition, appreciation, and utilization of intangible assets. First, it is an excellent primer for intangible asset intensive company’s and their management teams and boards for defining, identifying, and unraveling, intangible assets through actual case studies.  Second, it brings much need clarity, simplicity, and insight to utilizing and valuing intangibles.  Third, the book puts forth an important, but underlying, notion that intangible assets are not the sole province of Fortune 500 types of companies, rather, they’re found – embedded in and integral to most every SMM and SME regardless of industry type or sector.

One of the book’s most important take aways is the authors’ characterization of the present state of (global) business as the ‘intangible asset economy’.  This very meaningful and timely phrase accompanied by the economic fact that today 65+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, sustainability, and foundations for growth and future wealth creation lie in – are directly related to intangible assets, collectively frame the authors’ perspectives throughout the book.  

For a variety of reasons though, some prospective readers (business decision makers) may remain suspect (skeptical) of either of the above premises.  For them, they’re encouraged to jump straight to pages 32 thru 35 where Anson makes three important points by (1.) providing guidelines for practitioners to discover, identify, and quantify (intangible asset) value, (2.) conveying that intangible assets are not merely addendums to conventional IP, and (3.) distinguishing intangible assets from goodwill, IP, and intellectual capital which have long served as the catch alls for declaring and reporting intangible assets.

While there are parts of the book that require real study and reflection, the book is very readable and current. The readers’ pay off is understanding the relevance of intangibles and being able to more confidently and effectively execute the many practical concepts that are unfolded.

An important question not thoroughly addressed by the author though, is that its not fully explained in the case studies, why the decision makers for those particular companies were apparently ‘clueless’ about (a.) how to identify the intangible assets their company produced, (b.) how to value them, (c.) how they could be positioned, leveraged, maximized, and value extracted, and perhaps most important of all, (d.) the necessity to protect, preseve (sustain) control, use, ownership, and monitor the value of those assets!

(The Intangible Asset Handbook: Maximizing Value From Intangible Assets.  Weston Anson. 2007. American Bar Association  ISBN 978-1-59031-743-3)




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