It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to think about what I call “the Usual IP Suspects”–that is, patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets–when they consider protection of their company’s value. I learned working as patent attorney at a prestigious IP law firm, and later in a corporate environment, that often a company’s value can exist in forms other than these most recognized forms of IP protection. Indeed, for many companies, a great deal of value can reside in the broad class of “intangible assets.” It is then important for company leaders to identify and protect these less recognizable forms of company value. The B-School types say, “what isn’t managed can’t be measured,” and this goes for intangible assets, too. But, you can’t manage something that you have not first identified as being part of your business from which you can derive value.
I help clients think beyond “the Usual IP Suspects” to develop an inventory of intangible assets that differentiates their business model from those of competitors and, because of this, creates company value. Once these assets are identified, they can be protected with an appropriate legal strategy—in other words, they are “managed.” And, once valuable assets are protected, others—including accountants and potential acquirers—can put a value to them that can be realized by company stakeholders.
There is no doubt that ignoring intangible assets will result in unintended consequences that can affect a company’s balance sheet. Read more about intangible assets and examples of competitive differentiation that can create significant company value on my LinkedIn blog post.