24 August 2018

Preparing your Business for Sale or Investment – The value of IP

Protecting your IP turns intangible assets into exclusive property rights and allows you to exploit them to their full potential and create important revenue streams, for example through licensing.

Earlier this year, following bankruptcy, Toys R Us put all its IP up for auction, this included trade marks, domain names and the Geoffrey Giraffe mascot.

The sale attracted the interest of over 115 companies, including major retailers and highlighted the value and importance of a well-protected IP portfolio.

Any of our readers who have sold a business or looked to attract new investors will know that two of the first questions asked, during any Due Diligence exercise, are: what IP do you own and is it registered?

Protecting your IP turns intangible assets into exclusive property rights and allows you to exploit them to their full potential and create important revenue streams, for example through licensing. If properly protected and registered these rights cannot be commercialised or used without your permission.

It is not unusual for a business to find their IP assets are actually worth more than their physical assets, especially if they operate in knowledge-intensive and highly innovative sectors, or have a well-known brand name.

The UK’s total annual investment in intellectual property rights (patents, designs, trade marks, copyright) is huge, according to the UK Intellectual Property Office, it accounts for more than 4% of our Gross Domestic Product. In 2014, firms in the UK invested an estimated £133 billion in “knowledge assets” (patents, trade marks, design rights etc.), compared to £121 billion in tangible assets.

A common misconception is that small businesses don’t have intangible assets of sufficient value to necessitate intellectual property protection. However, this isn’t true. According to the Federation of Small Businesses, a significant number of current members are reliant on IP for 75% or more of their total turnover.

To exploit your IP fully, it makes strong business sense to do all you can to secure it. Advantages to IP protection include:

• The ability to protect your brand against infringement by others and defend your right to use, make, sell or import;
• The ability to stop others using, making, selling or importing your brand without your permission;
• The ability to earn royalties by licensing your brand;
• The ability to exploit your brand through strategic alliances, and;
• The possibility of making money by selling your brand.

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About the Author
Emma Kirkpatrick, Trade Mark Assistant
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