Fundamentals of Intellectual Property Valuation A Primer for Identifying and Determining Value

Fundamentals of Intellectual Property Valuation A Primer for Identifying and Determining Value

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Wes Anson and his fellow contributors have set before them a challenging goal: "to provide a practical, useful and straightforward guide to the identification and valuation of intellectual property and intangible assets." In pursuing this goal, the author and his collaborators are mindful of the need to strike a balance between providing a highly technical discussion of valuation techniques and methodologies and a breezy nutshell. To achieve this balance, Mr. Anson does an excellent job at the outset of identifying his reader and establishing a rapport with him/her on the basis that this book is a "primer" targeted to a sophisticated audience that has a professional interest in obtaining a basic understanding of how and why intellectual property can and should be valued. Mr. Anson has a pleasant narrative style and a decent editorial touch that avoids the choppiness that very often mars works such as this, with several contributors.

The book approaches its challenge by dividing itself into five basic parts. The first part is a useful introduction to terms and descriptions often used in discussions about intellectual property and intangible assets. In this section, Mr. Anson lays out the central themes of the book. Briefly stated, these themes are that all intangible assets are inextricably intertwined with pieces of intellectual property, that intangible assets that work and support each other should be valued together, and that the context in which the intellectual property valuation is being provided will ultimately drive the assumptions and value ranges that follow.

It is this last premise that drives much of the discussion that follows—namely, that the key to appraising intangible asset values is the identification of exactly what it is that is being valued and the context and conditions under which that value will be conferred. Mr. Anson states that when valuing intellectual property, "the devil is in the concepts, not the details." He posits that "the details will follow the conceptual breakthrough needed to ensure an accurate valuation."

Unless one is already an expert in the field, it is my view that any insolvency and restructuring professional would benefit from reading this book and from keeping it on hand.

To hammer home his point, the author distinguishes the valuation of intangibles from the valuation of tangible assets. He suggests that when valuing tangible assets, appraisers and their audience know what they are looking at, and therefore the relative determinants of value are necessarily focused on the distinguishing features of those assets. I would wager that Mr. Anson's colleagues who earn a living valuing such prosaic assets as real estate, inventory and equipment would quibble with his broad-brushed treatment of some of the contextual subtleties with which they regularly wrestle. However, I suspect Mr. Anson would respond that's because his colleagues are mired in the details, as opposed to floating through the rarified air surrounding intellectual property assets where an effective appraiser must understand fully "the conceptual issues of these very ephemeral and difficult-to-capture objects of the valuation process."

Moving past the discussion of these major themes and concepts, the book then seeks to de-mystify the process of evaluating intellectual property assets. It does this by identifying and explaining the basic valuation methodologies addressing first the more traditional approaches and then moving on to more sophisticated and proprietary approaches. In the next part of the book, these approaches are then applied to different types of intellectual-property assets. In connection with each asset class, Mr. Anson provides the reader with a practical guide to the valuation process, complete with straightforward case studies and charts that provide demonstrative illustrations of each of the primary methodologies employed. In a particularly timely example, Mr. Anson demonstrates how General Motors has generated a "halo effect" of value emanating from its core name and trademark (GM) without necessarily capitalizing on the strength of that core brand value. It seems likely that GM's recent announcement that it intends to add the GM nameplate to all of its future products resulted from the marketers at General Motors reaching the conclusion that an opportunity exists to enhance and further capitalize on its core brand value.

Moving past the discussion of different types of intellectual property, the next part of the book discusses different valuation contexts. Mr. Anson takes great pains to reinforce the point that intellectual property valuation is "context-specific." This point is graphically made through the use of a "context continuum" that is particularly relevant to insolvency and restructuring professionals as it demonstrates how, why and when the value of intellectual property assets change as an entity moves along the continuum from going concern to liquidation. The book goes on to identify and discuss different situations that require intellectual property valuation including recent regulatory initiatives of the Internal Revenue Service, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Accounting Standards Board.

The book concludes with an outline of the author's vision for the future and a prediction that the companies that survive and prosper in the new millennium will be those that effectively identify, deploy and leverage their intellectual capital. To assist the reader, Mr. Anson has provided several helpful checklists that can be used by corporate managers and their advisors to help identify intellectual capital and to maximize the commercial potential of that capital. Using graphic charts and tables, the author illustrates how intellectual capital translates into shareholder value and provides examples of companies that are successfully maximizing the commercial potential of such capital and those who have missed or may be missing the boat.

At the outset of this book, Mr. Anson articulated his hope that he had created a primer that would be used as a desk reference by managers and professionals who are necessarily confronted with issues involving the identification, commercialization and valuation of intellectual property assets. By and large, he has. Unless one is already an expert in the field, it is my view that any insolvency and restructuring professional would benefit from reading this book and from keeping it on hand. As the value of a company's intellectual capital continues to increase as a component of its overall enterprise value, its importance to the success or failure of a restructuring will likewise increase. This book successfully walks the line between basic and sophisticated, providing critical insight as well as practical, useful knowledge. Moreover, it provides an extensive bibliography to assist readers who may require a more in-depth treatment of any particular subject matter it addresses. Congratulations to Mr. Anson and his collaborators, who have provided a valuable service to the bar in general and to insolvency and restructuring professionals in particular.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2005