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MISSION:INTANGIBLE, the blog of the Intangible Asset Finance Society, offers critical comments on intangible asset, corporate reputation, and finance; supplemented by quantitative reputation metrics. Intangible assets include business processes, patents, trademarks; reputations for ethics and integrity; quality, safety, sustainability, security, and resilience; and comprise 70% of the average company's value. MISSION:INTANGIBLE is a registered trademark of the Intangible Asset Finance Society.

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Giving Intangibles a Backbone

C. HUYGENS - Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Just last week, Huygens happily shared news that management accountants were taking interest in reputation, a highly ethereal and ephemeral asset if there ever was one. Not that what was just shared is true -- reputation leaves a material mark on profit and loss statements which is why its management is so important, and so difficult.

Also, last Friday, the Society hosted its monthly Mission Intangible Monthly Briefing where the issues of giving substance to intangible assets was again hotly debated. Now Society friend Ken Jarboe, CEO of Athena Alliance, shares that intangibles are becoming less intangible as a result of new accounting rules.

The big news...is the treatment of spending on two intangibles: R&D and "creative works" -- which will be treated as an investment rather than an immediate expense ... This means that for purposes of calculating the size of the economy, this spending will be depreciated over a number of years just like spending on plant and equipment.

Intangibles looking more like plant and equipment? Really? Read More.

Equities: Not so tiny bubbles

C. HUYGENS - Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Equity asset price is driven by expectations. Equity appreciation, like that of any other asset, means investors are willing to pay more now for a share in the expectation that someone will be willing to pay even more in the future. The explanation as to why investors would formulate such an expectation, or why a future investor would behave as expected, is fuzzy, given that indicators of the expectations of other stakeholders -- Steel City Re's reputational metrics -- are more reserved.

For now, with respect to equity stakeholders, they do and they are. Specifically, equity investors are readily buying equities from prior equity investors, in large volumes, wholesale. The Financial Times reported last week that "…$19.7bn was invested in global equity funds…while $700m was pulled from bond funds…The $17.5bn flowing into US equity funds was the most since June 2008. Around $6.5bn of this went into State Street Global Advisors’ popular “Spider” ETF, which tracks the S&P 500 index."

Huygens has been reporting this year that a beneficiary of this pooled preferential purchase of the S&P500 has been the RepuSPX pocket index. RepuSPX, a portfolio that seeks algorithmically to find the best reputation-linked opportunities among the S&P500 constituent members on the basis of their Steel City Re reputation metrics, general outperforms the S&P500. As of last Thursday, RepuSPX was up for the calendar year by 29.77% beating the S&P500 returns by a spread of 14.01%. Its trailing twelve-month return of 51.66% was beating the market by 28.74%.

Still, it is a bubble.

Valuation of intangibles: New international standards

C. HUYGENS - Thursday, October 14, 2010
Justice Potter Stewart’s concurring opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 U.S. 184 (1964) enshrined the qualitative standard “I know it when I see it” into business culture. Now there is a quantitative standard too. For features other than the content of films, that is, as well as other intangibles.

The International Organization for Standards (ISO) has adopted a standard for the valuation of brands - a common term for many of the assets comprising some fraction of the typical ~70% gap between market value and book value. As abstracted from the report in the IAM blog,

ISO 10668 applies to brand valuations commissioned for all purposes, including: accounting and financial reporting; insolvency and liquidation; tax planning and compliance; litigation support and dispute resolution; corporate finance and fund raising; licensing and joint venture negotiation; internal management information and reporting; strategic planning; and brand management. The last of these applications includes brand and marketing budget determination, brand portfolio review, brand architecture analysis and brand extension planning.

ISO 10668 is a meta standard which succinctly specifies the principles to be followed and the types of work to be conducted in any brand valuation. It specifies that when conducting a brand valuation the brand valuer must conduct three types of analysis before passing an opinion on the brand’s value. These are legal, behavioural and financial analysis.

1. Definitions: The first requirement is to define what is meant by brand and which intangible assets should be included in the brand valuation opinion. The brand valuer is required to assess the legal protection afforded to the brand by identifying each of the legal rights that protect it, the legal owner of each relevant legal right and the legal parameters influencing negatively or positively the value of the brand.

2. Behavior: The brand valuer must understand and form an opinion on value drivers; ie,  likely stakeholder behaviour in each of the geographical, product and customer segments in which the subject brand operates.

3. Financial:  [The standard] specifies three alternative brand valuation approaches - the market, cost and income approaches.

The above, which seem to enshrine common practice, may move valuation experts to apply these principles to patents and other intangible assets, and the fact that these practices now have the imprimatur of the ISO may enable the capital markets to accept more readily these indications of value.

To find out if this is the case and to get the latest news from the valuation front, the Society will be hosting three consecutive Mission Intangible Monthly Briefings programs on the subject of intangible asset valuation: markets, value management, and valuation, on Nov 5, Dec 3 and Jan 7. Registration is free. You won't want to miss these!

Pennies from heaven: Monetizing intellectual capital

Nir Kossovsky - Saturday, April 10, 2010
Ken Jarboe, President of Society partner Athena Alliance and Chair of the Society's Public Policy Committee has given us permission to share the following post from the blog, Intangible Economy.

As the U.S. economy evolves, intangible asset investments are becoming vital to economic growth and sustainability. But, as our new paper "Intangible Assets: Innovative Financing for Innovation" outlines, intangible assets can also be the source of financial capital. As industry has invested capital in research and development (R&D) to create new technology and advance other creative activities, a niche market of firms specializing in intangibles-based financing is springing up. Some intangible assets--traditional IP consisting of patents, trademarks, and copyrights--have been used in sale, leasing, equity, equity-debt, debt, and sale-leaseback transactions to finance the next round of innovation.

The paper outlines a number of public policy actions that can be taken to foster the use of intangible asset financing. These include streamlining the technology transfer process, developing underwriting standards to cover the use of intangible assets as collateral and making financial statements more transparent with respect to intangible assets.

The deals that have been done demonstrate that IP and other intangibles are viable assets to secure capital. Unlike other "exotic" financing vehicles, however, intangible-asset financial products are built on some of the most basic financing mechanisms. Far from exotic, they use traditional techniques in new ways to help companies innovate and grow. As the paper shows, there is plenty of opportunity to harness the power of intangibles.

The paper is a summary of our two reports:
Intangible Asset Monetization: The Promise and the Reality and Maximizing Intellectual Property and Intangible Assets: Case Studies in Intangible Asset Finance. Published in the Winter issue of Issues in Science and Technology, the paper is also available on the Issues website.

IAFS Membership Drive

Nir Kossovsky - Wednesday, February 24, 2010
The IAFS launched its 2010 membership drive this past week. This is why. On February 28, new US SEC regulations will drive into the boardrooms risk, reputation and intangible asset management. 

You have a decision. Will you be at the table or on the menu?

These regs mean that every board member, in fact every top executive, can expect major new challenges. Members of the Intangible Asset Finance Society (IAFS) will be prepared. Here’s how:

1. Thought Leadership. The IAFS is the only interdisciplinary Society of professionals committed to the financial exploitation of intangible assets. That translates into enhanced pricing power; lower operating and credit costs; and higher net incomes and earnings multiples.

2. Risk Management. A lost reputation can destroy a firm overnight. IAFS can keep you up to date with risk management strategies for ethics, innovation, quality, safety, environmental sustainability, and security.

3. Preferential Pricing. Society members receive preferential rates for IAFS products at our new store and discounted registration to various professional meetings. Discounted registrations for the March ICAP Ocean Tomo meeting in San Francisco and the June IP Business Congress in Munich, for example, are now offered.

4. Incentive Premium. Sign on for your academic or corporate membership including payment by March 15 and receive a complementary copy of the IAFS’s latest book, Mission: Intangible. Managing risk and reputation to create enterprise value (a $29.95 value).

Click here to learn how our strengths in Thought Leaders and Risk Management, financial benefits such preferential pricing, and premiums such as the book shown at right make joining the Society today an offer you can't refuse.

Leftovers - M:I MB of 10-Jan-8 (Part I)

Nir Kossovsky - Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Among the educational resources offered by the Society are the Mission:Intangible® Monthly Briefings. These one hour events comprise about 45 minutes of prepared remarks backed up by presentation materials, and about 15 minutes of responses to questions submitted by listeners. Often, because of time constraints, there are questions leftover.

The 8 January 2010 Mission: Intangible Monthly Briefing comprising a robust panel of Society committee chairs evoked many questions. As promised, here are some of the leftovers.

QUESTION TO CATHY REESE: Your comments about the concept of director's duty of oversight driving greater attention to intangibles management are intriguing. Must a new area like this be built case by case or can there be a catalyst that speeds up the process (such a new set of laws and/or regulations). Is this reasonable to expect in the space of the next ten years?

ANSWER: Directors and officers currently have an affirmative duty under Delaware fiduciary law to oversee and monitor corporate assets and liabilities. Delaware's highest court has said that directors and officers can be held personally liable for losses suffered by the corporation as a result of their inattention. That court has also said that directors violate this duty by failing to (i) implement "reporting and information systems and controls" designed to ferret out such risks and report them on a timely basis to the board, or (ii) failing to monitor and update such systems and controls and thus ignore red flags that can lead to corporate liability. The losses engendered by one patent infringement suit can be enormous, particularly in a wilful infringement suit where damages may be trebled because the company "wilfully" continued to infringe when it knew or should have known of the infringement. I believe that the catalyst that will speed up the process and lead to nationwide awareness that this body of law applies to IP or IA risks and losses, would be one shareholder suit against corporate directors seeking to recover from them personally these infringement damages. Another route might be a shareholder suit to recover market losses for director and officer failure to monitor or address reputational risks before they damaged the value of the company. Shareholder actions for breaches of fiduciary duties by director and officers that are filed in the Delaware Chancery Court receive nationwide attention from corporate lawyers and the boards that they advise and can lead to instant changes in board focus.

Cathy L. Reese, Esq.
Fish & Richardson P.C.

QUESTION TO MARK LUCIER: In your presentation, you made reference to “IA-based financial products and investment vehicles.” How do we position these products so as to avoid being tainted by the recent financial derivatives debacle?

ANSWER: When I was talking about financial products and investment vehicles, what I was referring to was inventing new ways to "ring fence" intangible assets and the risks associated with them, thereby enabling investors to own or finance those assets or bear those risks. The creativity and complexity, then, is more about how we isolate the assets and risk than in how we slice, dice and allocate cash flows among various classes of investors.....think of it more as creating an intangible asset tracking stock or risk-linked security than as engineering a multi-tranche royalty-based CDO or securitization. Alternatively, to the extent we're able to quantify value & risk associated with intangibles, and further, if we can somehow link that to more traditional measures of financial or equity value and risk, then that could serve as the basis for a financial product that enables a company or its outside investors to share in the value being created by the company's intangibles or to hedge against the risk associated with those intangibles.

Of course, your point is well taken that regulators and the general public are skeptical of (read: hostile toward) anything that requires more than one or two boxes and arrows to describe its structure. A financial product's purpose should be plainly evident to those on Main Street and not just to those of us on Wall Street. If we are to be successful in creating these instruments and having them be broadly accepted, our driving motivation needs to be a focus on creating something that funnels capital to intangible assets to support and encourage innovation, rather than on cleverly shuffling the capital structure deck and obfuscating the instrument's true purpose. If we approach the creation of new financial products from that perspective, then "positioning" what we've created will simply be about highlighting the substantive economic benefits, rather than hiding something from the regulators or the Wall Street Journal.

Marc Lucier
Deutsche Bank

Ethical lubricant

Nir Kossovsky - Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Operating costs such as internal frictional costs are the bane of any executive accountable for the bottom line. True, they can be cut – usually through workforce reductions – but the long-term effects on surviving employees may include net losses in productivity and even greater internal frictional costs.

Here is good news, executives. There is a proven strategy for lowering internal frictional costs. This is it. Be ethical. Be sustainable. Be safe. And be known for it.

In other words, all you need to do is apply the best practices found in other companies that are superior stewards of their intangible assets – the business processes that lead to reputations for ethics, safety, quality, innovation, security, and sustainability. Companies that follow these practices tend to out perform their peers and better reward their shareholders.

The relationship between these business processes, reputation, internal frictional costs, and value creation are illustrated on a webpage of one of our members, Steel City Re, a leader in risk and reputation management. The latest data affirming these principles comes from Kelly Services, Inc. (NASDAQ: KELYA, KELYB), a world leader in workforce management services and human resources solutions.

According to the Kelly study announced late last month,

Major public issues such as a company’s reputation for strong ethical practices have become critical factors in choosing where to work, even to the point where many employees are prepared to sacrifice pay or promotion in order to work for organizations that are actively engaged in good social responsibility practices. More specifically, concerns about ethical behavior outweigh concerns about the environment by all generations, when making employment choices.

Here are some other key findings:

  • Almost 90 percent of respondents say they are more likely to work for an organization that is considered ethically and socially responsible, something that is consistent across all age generations.
  • 80 percent are more likely to work for an organization that is considered environmentally responsible, a figure that is considerably higher among older age groups.
  • In deciding where to work, an organization’s reputation for ethical conduct is considered ‘very important’ by 65 percent of Gen Y, 72 percent of Gen X, and 77 percent of baby boomers.
  • 46 percent of Gen Y would be prepared to forego pay or promotion to work for an organization with a good reputation, rising to 48 percent for Gen X and 53 percent for baby boomers.
  • In deciding where to work, policies to address global warming are considered ‘very important’ by 31 percent of Gen Y, rising to 35 percent among Gen X and 36 percent for baby boomers.
Here's the action part. Want to cut operating costs? Ramp up your company’s reputation for ethics, sustainability, safety, etc. Become a superior risk and reputation manager.

Want to know how to do it? Join the Intangible Asset Finance Society. We provide a forum for executives to discover better ways to increase the visibility, transparency, and value of intangible assets. These assets comprise 50% of the average company's value. Click here for information on membership and affiliate with us on LinkedIn.

Case studies in IA Finance

Nir Kossovsky - Monday, November 02, 2009
The Society's mission is to increase the visibility, transparency, and positive impact of intangible asset finance through education, the promulgation of standards, and advocacy. The Athena Alliance, a friend of the Society, specializes in advocacy. Its President, Ken Jarboe, provided us with the following:

As innovative companies struggle to raise funds, intellectual property and intangible assets are providing alternative ways of financing innovation. But greater awareness of them as an asset class is needed. Raising that awareness is the focus of a new report from Athena Alliance, Maximizing Intellectual Property and Intangible Assets: Case Studies in Intangible Asset Finance by Ian Ellis, a former U.S. Department of Commerce official specializing in intellectual property and international trade.

The report outlines increasing, but still nascent, means of financing innovation based on these assets in public, private and venture capital markets. As industry has invested capital in research and development to develop new technology and advance other creative activities, intellectual capital has become a valuable asset class, according to the paper. In response, firms specializing in intangible-based financing are springing up, using them to raise capital for the next round of innovation.

The paper details equity, equity-debt, debt, and sale-leaseback transactions, both private and public, that have helped companies raise capital, based on careful, rigorous analysis and conservative underwriting standards. For example, the author notes that in 2000, there were two public deals using royalty securitization, raising $145 million. In 2007-08, $3.3 billion was raised in 19 deals.

Unlike some of the exotic financial vehicles, however, the financial products discussed in this paper are some of the most basic financing mechanisms in business. The innovation is in recognizing the value of intangible assets for corporate finance. These new financial firms are using traditional financial techniques in new ways to help innovative companies.

But more should be done.

One important step would be developing sound, industry-wide, underwriting standards, according to the report. For example, Small Business Administration (SBA) rules permit its loans to be used for acquisition of intangible assets when buying on-going businesses. Rules are unclear on whether those assets can be used as collateral. The paper recommends that SBA work with commercial lenders to develop standards for using intangible assets as collateral.

The report builds on earlier Athena Alliance papers, notably Intangible Asset Monetization: The Promise and the Reality.

Photo finish

Nir Kossovsky - Tuesday, September 15, 2009
The objectives of the Intangible Asset Finance Society are to increase the visibility, transparency, and value of intangible assets through education, advocacy, and the promulgation of standards. Leverage is a common instrument of value deployment, and IP as collateral is one of several favorite topics among Society members. Which is why we couldn't pass the opportunity to share this note on an IP secured loan-gone-bad.

Celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz, who has photographed everyone from the Rolling Stones to Queen Elizabeth II, put her art, intellectual property and even real estate assets up for collateral last year when she consolidated her massive debts into one $24 million loan.  Leibovitz made her creditor an “irrevocable, exclusive agent” in December 2008 in exchange for the loan at a 12 percent interest rate. The collateral specifically included all photographs she has taken or will take.  Last Tuesday was the deadline for repaying the loan or surrendering the collateral - a deadline not met.

Friday, Bloomberg reported that Liebowitz bought back control to her photographs and real estate by renegotiating the terms of a $24 million loan from Art Capital Group. In return, the lender dropped its lawsuit against her.

Instituting intellectual property finance

Nir Kossovsky - Thursday, May 28, 2009
The Society is pleased to announce the 28 May 2009 launch of the IP Finance Institute and to welcome the Institute into the Society’s global alliance. The Society also congratulates Pier Biga, managing partner of ICM Advisors, who is Executive Director.

The Intellectual Property Finance Institute is the first European research and competence centre focused on IP Economics & Finance. The Institute is a non-profit organization which promotes and develops know-how transfer, research initiatives and projects about the IP as an economic asset and its use in IP-based financing solutions.

The Institute was co-founded by the Innovation Studies Group of the Politecnico di Torino, a leading international technology university, and ICM Advisors, a leading international advisory and research firm specializing in intangible asset valuation and IP-based financing.

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