Why is Intellectual Property (IP) so often overlooked in business situations?
If you are a business owner wanting to expand, don’t ignore the intangible aspects of your business – if managed strategically, they can significantly enhance your asset portfolio. If you are a business owner wanting to position your business for sale, don’t forget to highlight your valuable IP – you might miss a legitimate opportunity to increase your sale price. If you are a prospective purchaser of a business, don’t forget to include the IP in what is being transferred to you as part of the package – you might buy a specialty gourmet eatery but end up with none of the signature recipes!
Contrary to a typical understanding, IP is not just a part of business intangible property known as “goodwill” or “reputation”. IP includes all manner of things. Here’s a sample list: contracts with suppliers or customers, client lists and contact information, trade names and trademarks (registered or unregistered), logos and other unique branding features, domain names, designs, written creations, artistic works, inventions, trade secrets, marketing plans, and manufacturing specs.
“It is now an accepted fact of business that intellectual property has emerged as one of the key corporate assets of the 21st century” (Wild, Joff, IP Value 2004).
Remember: IP is property. It can be bought and sold, licensed or loaned. It has value and, just like any property, its value can increase or decrease. It can be managed, used and protected, or forgotten and lost. Bottom line: you can make money, or lose money, on IP. If you overlook business IP, you do so to your detriment.
Our thanks to Barbara Beck for writing this article