IP Audits: Understanding intangible assets

29 Audit

With service companies typically owning very few tangible assets and product companies generating increasing revenue through their service delivery and aftercare channels, intangible assets are becoming an increasingly important and valuable part of 21st century business. Whilst tangible assets are typically easy to document and value, intangible assets including Intellectual Property (IP) Rights, reputational assets, customer data, know-how, trade secrets etc. are often extremely difficult to quantify.

However, it is often these intangible assets that contribute most significantly to the eventual sale price of a business, and that appeal most to the buyer for future exploitation. Knowing where these assets exist within your business, and managing their protection and exploitation is essential.

The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) is helping businesses understand and exploit their intangible assets by funding a series of IP Audits which document both registered and unregistered IP Rights within a business and advise on how to best protect and exploit any commercially valuable knowledge and information. The Audits are worth £3,000 and can be up to 85% funded by the UKIPO, leaving the business only having to pay £400.

The scheme is currently administered through Enterprise Europe Network’s ‘Innovate2Succeed’ Programme which is available to aspirational, growth-focussed SMEs across all sectors. Some of the key questions that businesses should think about when considering how to identify, protect and exploit their intangible assets include:

  • Is my brand protected?
  • Are my products/designs protected?
  • Is key information stored securely?
  • What attributes/emotions do my customers associate with my business?
  • Why do repeat customers come back to me?
  • Has the knowledge to perform key processes been catalogued?
  • Do my employment contracts cover IP Rights?
  • Do my employees understand what information must be kept confidential?
  • If a key employee leaves, what information/knowledge may they possess that would be valuable to a competitor?
  • Can I commercialise the IPRs/knowledge within the business through licensing/franchising?

The ip21 team regularly advise clients on these issues and have performed many of the UKIPO’s IP Audits under their funding programme.

For any aspect of Intellectual Property advice and overall strategy, please get in touch with the ip21 team.

Richard Jones, Business Relationship Manager for ip21 Ltd.