Monday 18 February 2008

What is IP value all about? Part II

In response to the preceding post, Joff Wild has come straight back with the following retort:
"I am still not sure I agree with you. If you look at the secondary strap on the front cover of IP Value 2008, it states: "Building and enforcing intellectual property value". So I reckon we do pretty much what it says on the label!

On a more fundamental level, I think one of the problems that many companies and their investors have with IP is that they do not understand the fact that an IP right of itself is pretty pointless, it is the ability (and the willingness) to enforce it that really does create the value. You will find, for example, that while many high-tech start-ups boast of their patent portfolios, many make no provision for the expense of enforcing or defending them - they believe the patent rights of themselves are enough. The same attitude has been pretty prevalent among VCs, though that - I believe - is changing.

If you look at the most recent issue of IAM you will see our annual survey on patent values as reflected in US damages awards and settlements. This, I believe, demonstrates a direct link between enforcement and value, not a tangential one. In the same way, what is Intellectual Ventures if it is not a company that is based very firmly on the premise of creating IP value through the implied threat of enforcement of its rights? The same can be said for most of the intermediaries we look at in the article by Ray Milien and Ron Laurie. Meanwhile, the IAM blog, like the IP Finance blog, has been reporting on Nokia's German dust-up with IP-Com. What is IP-Com if it is not a company that specifically uses enforcement - actual or threatened - to leverage IP value?

With trade marks, the link is even closer, isn't it? Unless you are seen to enforce your marks, you lose the right to use them. Given the emergence of brands as vital corporate assets, such a scenario would be disastrous for many businesses in all kinds of ways.

So, what am I saying here? My view on IP is that you have to see it very firmly in the round - you can't compartmentalise and say this bit is for the lawyers, this bit is for the attorneys, this bit is for the accountants, this bit is for the business consultants, this bit is for the investors etc etc. You need a broad perspective, because it is only with this perspective that as an IP owner you can hope to maximise the value of what you have".
Resisting the temptation to give an instant reply again, I thought I'd give the readers of IP Finance a chance to air their own opinions. If you'd like to add anything to this debate, please feel free to do so below.

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