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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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IP Quality - 1, 2, 3 What Are We Fighting For? - 16 May 10h00 EST Mission Intangible Monthly Briefing

C. HUYGENS - Friday, April 25, 2014

Briefing Friday 16 May at 10h00 ET

Program: IP Quality - 1, 2, 3 What Are We Fighting For?

The hardest part of business to business contracting used to be haggling over price; today, it is just as likely to be haggling over intellectual property rights. This is because Intellectual Property is potentially valuable -- provided it is really good stuff. What are the measures of "good?"

Joining the program to explore the patent quality and quality controls, and the critical role of the business executives in enabling patent quality, are John W. Kepler, JD, an attorney and authority on IP quality; and James M. Singer, an intellectual property attorney with Fox Rothschild and head of the firm's IP section. Mr. Singer and the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP support the Society through pro bono legal advice in intellectual property matters.

Jonathan Salem Baskin,  Managing Director of Consensiv, moderates. Learn more.

Microsoft v Nokia: Great expectations chapter 1

C. HUYGENS - Monday, September 16, 2013
Few things are as illustrative as an exercise of comparing and contrasting. Huygens this week is presenting three pairs of corporate reputation data for the sole purpose of the benefits described. First up are Microsoft (MSFT) and Nokia (NOK). The latter, having taken action motivated by a burning platform, appears -- as Huygens' friend, a fireman, likes to say -- to have saved another foundation. Claiming that foundation, intellectual property actually, is Microsoft whose patent department used to be headed by Marshall Phelps, formerly of IBM, who brought over IBM's tradition of amassing patents. But that's all inside baseball. Let's look at what the stakeholders expect, as reflected in the Steel City Re reputational value metrics.

Looking first at the vital signs is evidence that Microsoft's current reputational value volatility, what Consensiv, the reputation controls consultancy, likes to term the Consensus Trend, has reached parity with Nokia. What was formerly an indication of relatively high certainty of the appropriate reputational value at the 29th percentile from a pool of 85 companies for Microsoft, and average certainty at the 56th percentile from of pool of 74 for Nokia, is now in the 60th+ percentile for both. In absolute numbers, Nokia's current RVM (RVM is a non-financial measure of reputational value) volatility is around 10%, which puts it comfortably in the range of "expected big equity changes." The other metrics generally show that the same bottle of fine scotch could be used toast success at Nokia and drown sorrows at Microsoft, for the leading indicators are stable for the former, and negative for the latter. The bottom line, Microsoft's current reputation rank has fallen. It has lost significant amount of Reputation Premium; the opposite for Nokia. QED.

Interdigital: Patent operations other than war

C. HUYGENS - Thursday, June 21, 2012
On July 13, the Mission Intangible Monthly Briefing  looks at patents in a program titled Total Patent War.  To warm up our global audience in advance of the broadcast, we offer a guest note from Rob Aronoff, Managing Partner, Pluritas, LLC.

InterDigital-Intel and AOL-Microsoft Transactions, Add Cash & Unlock “Hidden” Shareholder Value

CEOs, Boards of directors, activist investors are only just now realizing that the cash generated by recent patent sales is only one part of their success. Additionally, hundreds of millions of dollars of heretofore “hidden” shareholder value has been unlocked without compromising competitiveness.

The InterDigital-Intel sale for $375 million in cash netted Intel buyer 1,700 patents. To achieve this InterDigital did not need to give away the store, as some in the financial media have reported. Additionally, InterDigital stock rose almost 30% in a single day of trading following the announcement.

Also overlooked by financial analysts in the recent sale by AOL of 925 patents and patent applications to Microsoft for $1.1 billion dollars has been its material impact on shareholder value. The deal not only generated for AOL holders than $1B in immediate cash, net of fees, which will be paid in the form of a one-time dividend, but it increased shareholder value virtually overnight by more than $600M, which has been sustained.

AOL stock is up almost 82% to date, and has leveled off at about $27 per share, slightly higher than the patent sale share price.

The transaction was instigated by Starboard Value LP, an AOL investor unhappy with the stock performance that at the time of the transaction owned approximately 5.3% of the company’s shares. Starboard Value will realize about $53M from the one-time dividend.

Out of Thin Air

But while the return to Starboard for raising the issue of hidden value in IP may very well concern some dissident shareholders who expected a higher return and a more orderly sale process, the real story is that more than half a billion dollars in market value was created out of ‘thin air’ by unlocking it through an IP rights transaction.

Reviewing the numbers, it has been widely stated in several publications that the AOL stock jumped 42% on the announcement of the patent sale to Microsoft. AOL’s market cap of $2.4B was $1.8B for weeks prior to the deal.

The question investors and fiduciaries should be asking is: Why aren’t other significant IP holders considering similar moves? If so, what are potential opportunities and impediments?

The global corporate landscape is littered with candidates ripe for similar win-win outcomes that can be generated from strategically leveraging patents. Pay close attention over the coming months, now that Wall Street is finally waking up to the financial potential of IP. More scenarios are likely to follow.

Too Many Warheads

Companies with IP rights should be thinking about a patent sale as an opportunity -- especially if not aggressively doing so gives dissident shareholders a reason to point a finger. The downside of patent sales is that a business may be “giving away” potential cross-licensing and future enforcement revenues.

But, in an era where cash is king, it often makes sense to take the money now. If necessary, companies can always find a reasonable and affordable way to deal with cross licensing and assertion needs. Retaining enough of their best IP to be credible is one method. That’s why AOL decided to hold on to 300, or so, of its patents, despite the large cash sale. It is unclear which of the some 18,000 patents and applications that InterDigital has retained, but, rest assured, there is plenty of value in what remains.

Much like downsizing a nation’s nuclear arsenal, a company’s patent capability should be proportionate to its needs. Holding too many important patents may be less necessary than it appears – and more costly to market value.

Google: Intellectual adventures

C. HUYGENS - Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Here is an intangible asset paradox: How is it that Google, whose core business is connecting people to information, has to buy the manufacturer of physical products (telephone handset) to obtain intellectual property? Monday morning, Google (NASD:GOOG) announced that it was acquiring Motorola Mobility Holdings for $40 a share in cash or $12.5 billion.

The Financial Times (16 Aug, Taylor, Waters) reports that “the deal also gives Google direct access to Motorola Mobility’s portfolio of more than 17,000 patents and 7,500 pending patents, ammunition Google believes it needs to repel a patent assault by Apple, Microsoft, Oracle and others on its Android mobile phone operating system.
According to the Los Angeles Times (Aug. 16, Sarno, Li), experts say the Google purchase is aimed squarely at defending itself and its partner firms that use its Android technology -- including HTC Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. -- against patent infringement lawsuits filed by such competitors as Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. Ken Dulaney, vice president of mobility at the Gartner information technology research and advisory company, remarks, "They are getting hammered by everyone suing them, and they didn't have much of a defense." Among the most recent patent actions are Apple's suits against Android makers HTC and Samsung, Oracle Corp.'s suit against Google itself, and Microsoft's suit against Barnes & Noble Inc. over its Android-powered Nook reader.

But acquiring a handset manufacturer will put Google into direct competition with many of the companies that rely on Android to power their own smartphones, including Samsung and HTC. National Public Radio (Aug 15, Peralta) notes that this business risk compounds existing regulatory risk. “The Federal Trade Commission is already scrutinizing Google. As the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month, one thing the FTC is looking at is whether Google prevents smartphone manufacturers that use Google's operating system from using competitors' services.”

Shares in Motorola Mobility, advised by Qatalyst and Centerview, closed up 56 per cent. Google, advised by Lazard, saw its stock fall 1.2 per cent. Google's reputation index rankings, as reported by Steel City Re, were at the 99th percentile among 105 peers in the IT services sector days before the deal was announced. The reputational volatility metrics have been rising for the past three months, but at 2%, they would not appear to be material. Yet, with Google, any volatility translates into a slip from the #1 rank, and that is almost always associated with a slight decrease in value. Over the trailing twelve months to 11 Aug, Google has underperformed the median of its peers by 2% reflecting the premium associated with being stably situated as the top ranked firm.

Hyundai: Court says defend me!

Nir Kossovsky - Monday, April 12, 2010
The Intangible Asset Finance Society is absorbed with issues at the interface of finance, risk, and the six major business processes that drive reputation: ethics, innovation, quality, safety, sustainability, and security. Today's note, courtesy of Society member Bruce Berman, CEO of Brody Berman Associates, Inc., a specialized management consulting and communications firm, is exemplary of core Society interests. Bruce writes,

In a story that received surprisingly scant media coverage, an appeals court has decided that two insurance companies must provide defense coverage to Hyundai against patent infringement claims by a non-practicing entity (NPE), also known as a patent troll, because the company’s policy covers advertising injury. As reported by the Courthouse News Service and IP Law 360 on April 7, the federal appeals court reversed a lower court decision when it ruled that Hyundai Motor America (SEO:011760) is entitled to defense coverage by National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa.,  a unit of AIG.

The case involved a patent infringement suit over an advertising method that ended with a $34 million verdict against the automaker. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Monday that Judge James Selna of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California erred when he granted summary judgment to National Union and American Home Assurance Co. on the grounds that patent infringement does not constitute “advertising injury” for the purposes of an insurance policy.

As reported in IPL360 “
Gene Schaerr, a partner at Winston & Strawn LLP who represented Hyundai, called the ruling a ‘tremendous victory.’ Schaerr stated that the ruling is significant not only for Hyundai, but for a large number of other companies with similar policies that cover advertising injury. "The insurance industry has been taking the position that such policies don’t apply to patent infringement and other alleged wrongs involving Web sites,” he noted. The case began in 2005, when Hyundai was one of 20 automakers sued by patent-holding company Orion IP LLC, now known as Clear with Computers LLC, in the Eastern District of Texas over a patent for a method of generating customized product proposals.

Bruce adds, "I wonder how many companies are aware that some of their existing insurance coverages may fund IP defense if not liability?"

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 III)

Nir Kossovsky - Monday, January 25, 2010
Among the educational resources offered by the Society are the Mission:Intangible® Monthly Briefings. These one hour events, moderated by Mary Adams who chairs our Member News Committee, comprise about 45 minutes of prepared remarks backed up by presentation materials, and 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 is the third and final potion of leftovers.

QUESTION TO JUDY GIORDAN: You talked about capturing the value from open innovation. When companies do this, do they see it in terms of the relationship with IA management? Does the question matter?

ANSWER: The concept behind Open Innovation (a term promoted by Henry Chesbrough, a professor and executive director at the Center for Open Innovation at UC Berkeley) is that companies can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas and paths to market. As described by Chesborough and others, central to open innovation is that in a world of widely distributed and ever increasing information and knowledge, companies cannot afford to rely entirely on their own internal research, but should instead buy or license processes or inventions (e.g. patents) from other companies as well as find opportunities for internal inventions not being used in a firm's business to be commercialized outside the company (e.g., through licensing, joint ventures, spin-offs).

Explicit to all of this is the IP question – who owns the rights to the IP of the technology – and this is the aspect being focused on by companies. What is implicit and is an opportunity that is not being capitalized upon is for reputation enhancement from the standpoint of IA around open innovation. That is – demonstrating that the ability to creatively and facily interact in the open market for innovations creates a competitive edge for a company –by capturing value through the process of bringing in technology, aligning it well to corporate goals and monetizing as well as process of spinning out unused technology.

Judith Giordan.
Steel City Re

QUESTION TO DAVID HETZEL: You talked about the market for patents maturing. Is this something that will happen organically or can it be speeded up? If so, how?

ANSWER: The re-institutionalization of the public, real-time live auction ala Ocean Tomo would assist. Now that OT auction are under the umbrella of ICAP, we'll have to see what they do. ICAP, as you may know, has tremendous resources. I'm sure standardizations around patent quality and valuation would go a long way to accelerating the market's development.

David Hetzel

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

Nir Kossovsky - Thursday, January 14, 2010
Among the educational resources offered by the Society are the Mission:Intangible® Monthly Briefings. These one hour events, moderated by Mary Adams who chairs our Member News Committee, 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 more of the leftovers.

QUESTION TO JON LOW: You talked about how we shouldn't look to the accounting profession for support on intangibles yet you also call for comparability. If we don't get this from financial data, where will we find it? What will it look like?

ANSWER: Useful, comparable data supporting the growing economic importance of intangibles will most likely come from practitioners who perceive a financial benefit to themselves. Historically, this is where such innovations have come from as opposed to regulators or stolid, conservative and internally conflicted practitioner groups like the accountants. In the case of comparable data for intangibles we are already seeing growing interest in certain segments like reputation, brand and R&D as a proxy for innovation. Sustainability in its various manifestations is also gaining as a topic of interest.

From these basic roots, successive branches will grow as more factors become important to more industry segments. For instance, once M&A activity revives, data on post-merger integration success or failure – already a subject of considerable research – will probably also blossom.

It would be nice to think that some supra-national organization like the UN or OECD will take the lead, but they see no financial incentive or moral imperative to do so. Self-organized groups like WICI might have been able to lead had they adopted a more open-source approach, but they appear to be pursuing the secretive ‘let’s corner the market and see how much we can charge for our insights’ approach that has failed repeatedly in the past. Any group wedded to a particular technology or set of what they hope will be patented-able processes are similarly doomed because the market is simply too dynamic and unmanageable at this stage. Again, this is not a philosophical, political or doctrinal point of view, it is simply a reflection of natural phenomenon based on historical experience.

When comparable data emerge I believe they will look like the sort of ratios and benchmarks that managers use as a practical means of evaluating their performance. This is in contrast to the increasingly ambiguous or obfuscated metrics served up by GAAP or international accounting standards. The basis of intangibles importance to managers is their usefulness in evaluating and predicting performance, not in enabling arcane acts of financial sleight of hand. It is this usefulness that has prevented their oft-predicted demise and will support their ultimate adaptation.

Jon Low.

QUESTION TO NIGEL PAGE: You predicted a convergence of IP and IA/IC. I agree with you although in my experience, many folks in the IP space have a very strong prejudice that leads them to think (and often say) that intangibles outside of traditional IP (patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets) have limited value. How do we cross this chasm?

ANSWER: I suspect that the events of the coming few years will see this prejudice start to disappear. Most organisations are likely to refocus their priorities as they emerge from recession and, as they do so, they will begin to pay far greater attention to the whole range of intangible assets they own, as well as the potential for monetising these assets. At the same time, CIPOs (or equivalent) will increasingly realise that the best way to secure C-suite attention for their efforts will be to make sure that they incorporate IP into a broader reputation-based 'package'. CEOs will sit up and pay attention to IP if and when they can be made to understand that it is a cornerstone of their corporate reputation, and not a techy side-avenue that's best left to in-house counsel.

Nigel Page
Intellectual Asset Management Magazine

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

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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