Tuesday 28 July 2009

Opel and its Patents

IP finance ... where money issues meet intellectual property rights: Continued OPEL IP Confusion

This blog has already already reported on the possible separation of Opel from General Motors and the IP ramifications.

The latest news - reported in yesterday's edition of the Financial Times Deutschland - is that one of the bidders for the company has pulled out from the bidding process because it could not agree with GM on access to the patent rights. The FT Deutschland states that Chinese automobile company BAIC could not bridge their differences with GM.

This reminds me of the sale of Rover's patents a few years ago to the Chinese Shanghai Automotive Company. The later sale of the assets to another Chinese company Nanjing then unleashed a dispute in the press about who had the patent rights.

Just to add to the confusion - the trade mark ROVER was apparently sold separately to Tata motors, as reported here.

So where does this leave Opel? The German government are desparately trying to find a buyer to keep as much production in Germany as possible. However, the moral of this story seems to be that the rights to the intellectual property may be the most important assets that the company has (or rather does not have, as they are owned by GM). Ultimately any deal that happens is going to need to take into account not just the saving of jobs in an election year in Germany, but also the access to the IP to allow Opel to continue to make cars.

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