Last week I had the opportunity to attend the annual meeting of the Intangible Asset Finance Society. The meeting provided a forum for panelists and attendees to share ideas about how a company can best protect its intangible assets. Intangible assets include not only legal assets (patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets) but also other intangible competitive advantages (such as know-how, customer goodwill, and supplier/distributor/collaborative relationships). Various sources have estimated that intangible assets make up between 65 and 80% of the market value of most S&P 500 companies.
One of the most interesting discussions related to actions that companies can take to protect the security of valuable brands. Although registration and enforcement of a trademark is important for brand security, managing the goodwill associated with a brand can be even more important. Goodwill can have many elements: reputation, consumer loyalty, perceived ethical standards, and collaborative relationships all factor into the overall perception of a company’s goodwill.
Goodwill can erode quickly when an adverse event occurs. We’ve all seen examples of recent challenges to corporate goodwill: lead paint on toys, harmful bacteria on produce, external tampering with pharmaceutical packaging, potentially illegal activity by employees, accidental disclosure of customers’ personal information. How well a company recovers its goodwill in such a situation depends in large part on the company’s preparation for such an event.
The panel discussed many actions that a company can take in order to protect its brand security. Recommendations included: Continue reading
The Intangible Asset Finance Society will hold its annual meeting on September 24-26, 2007 in the Syracuse, NY area. This year’s sessions will focus on intangible asset finance best practices, including best practices for managing intellectual property, security and other assets. Only a few registrations remain available for the meeting. For IAFS membership and meeting details, click here.
Today I attended an American Intellectual Property Law Association patent seminar in Washington, D.C. The seminar included a panel discussion about how to effectively manage costs when maintaining an IP portfolio. Useful ideas included:
- Establish an “IP champion” for different business units or product lines so that someone within each unit is responsible for identifying significant new developments (including new products, software, and manufacturing processes). Have that person coordinate with IP counsel to develop a strategy for protecting those developments.
- Companies with a “culture of innovation” can more effectively manage IP portfolios. Corporate officers who actively influence product development strategies are critical for obtaining support for IP protection.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of regularly gathering competitive intelligence. Although protecting your own IP is important, it’s just as important – and sometimes more important – to proactively monitor competitors’ patent filings, new product introductions and marketing materials.
- New developments can have value even if they don’t end up in a product of the business. Consider potential licensing revenue when deciding whether or not to protect a new innovation.
The panel included in-house IP counsel from Caterpillar Inc., Microsoft Corp., and Milliken & Co. AIPLA will repeat the seminar on June 14 in Minneapolis and June 21 in Portland. I recommend the program for anyone involved in patent prosecution.
Welcome to IP Spotlight. This website is intended to provide news and information that is relevant to individuals who focus on the business aspects of intellectual property. Although there are many well-written blogs available that focus on news that is relevant to obtaining and enforcing IP, my goal will be to provide news relating to licensing, due diligence, acquisition, and managing risk associated with IP. The information may be relevant to IP practitioners as well as technology managers, venture capital and institutional investors, M&A experts, corporate officers and other non-lawyers who are responsible for technology management, research and development.
I invite your comments about topics of interest, suggestions for improving the site, and topical comments to add to the discussion.