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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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Scotland's Reputation: Just watch what they do.

C. HUYGENS - Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Andrew Carnegie, one of Scotland's better known American transplants, famously said, "As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say, I just watch what they do." So while the opinion polls suggested a close plebiscite, the Scots' vote favored the union by 10%. Scotland's reputation as one of four upstanding united kingdoms was preserved.

Not necessarily so. As Consensiv's Jonathan Salem Baskin points out, the electorate has voted. Now watch what other stakeholders do -- evidenced by the value of foreign direct investment, tax impact of immigration, business start up and expansion rates, risk premium on sovereign debt; and by what concessions the local Scottish government needs to make to optimize the above.

Read more.

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.

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

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.

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