Thursday 9 July 2009

Trade marks in corporate management structure: a further view

Last week, in "Trademarks and the Company Organizational Chart", Neil Wilkof raised some sharp issues regarding the management of IP, and particularly trade marks, within the wider context of corporate management strategy. This is a subject that Ron Laurie (right, Chairman, Inflexion Point Group; Managing Director, Inflexion Point Strategy, LLC; CIPO, Inflexion Point Analytics, LLC) has himself written on in Bruce Berman's latest book, From Assets to Profits [reviewed on IP Finance here]. The Perspective which prefaces Ron Laurie's chapter, "The Evolving Role of IP in M & A: From Deal-Breaker to Deal-Maker", reads as follows:
"Over the past several years, patents have come to be recognized by the financial community not just as a bundle of legal rights, but as an independent commercial asset class, like real estate and corporate securities. Innovative new models for monetizing patents have emerged based on the creative adaptation of existing models used with more traditional asset classes such as asset-backed securities and more traditional strategic models.

“This shift in perception about the uses and the value of patents,” says Ron Laurie, an IP investment banker and former patent attorney who focuses on transactions, “has spawned a proliferation of market makers, intermediaries, and service providers, including patent aggregators, enforcers, investors, financiers, brokers, exchanges, and auction houses. “New business models are emerging every day. More recently, institutional investors, in the form of private equity firms and hedge funds, have come to see investing in patents, or in patent litigation, or trading public company shares based on patent-related information, as a natural expansion of their existing business.”

Laurie contends that the shift in perception regarding IP assets has until now had little, if any, impact, on corporate mergers and acquisitions. The reasons are both structural and environmental, and derive in large part from the problem of corporate valuation, especially when it involves intangible assets. IP was traditionally viewed in M&A transactions as a possible “deal-breaker,” effectively an afterthought that IP
lawyers attended to. When it came to consummating a transaction, these professionals were much more likely to regard all news as bad news.

Today, IP in M&A is starting to be seen as an important deal facilitator that the bankers, private equity capital providers, and others need to understand from the start".
You can read the chapter in full here.
And here’s a link to Ron's half-hour video interview on the subject of IP-driven M&A.

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