In enterprises, intellectual property rights (IP rights), such as patents, trademarks, designs, and know-how more and more often play a key role in the assessment of a company's value and viability. Of course, this trend is particularly apparent in high-tech and new economy companies, but also in companies active in more traditional markets, do the factors of know-how and familiarity with the trademark play an increasingly significant part.
Due diligence audit
An inventory of the actual power and scope of an IP portfolio is particularly relevant in the event of company takeovers, participations and the set-ups of licensing programs. This may involve a so-called due diligence audit by the potential purchaser, investor or licensee, but a company may also want to display its IP position to attract providers of capital or licensees.
Also for staking out and testing company strategy in the field of IP, making an inventory may be of great importance for obtaining a better insight into a company's IP position. After all, capitalizing the value represented by the IP portfolio, for instance by taking action against infringement, licensing, or attracting capital more easily, is not possible until the key elements have been identified.
In practice, it is difficult for entrepreneurs and investors, usually non-specialists in the field of IP, to obtain a clear picture of a company's IP position and its effect on the value of the company. Some of the issues or questions to be addressed are:
- survey of the registered rights with current status data;
- what does the IP position in effect cover and how does that fit in with the company's strategy?;
- threats such as claims by inventors, novelty-damaging state of the art, current disputes;
- dependency on rights of other parties;
- position relative to competitors; and
- weakening due to rights provided to third parties, such as licenses and pledges.
V.O. assists in mapping the IP position of the target company. This is realized in a so-called IP audit. Bundling patent attorneys specialized in different fields of study, trademark attorneys and attorneys-at-law, V.O. can provide a clear view of a company's IP position.
Depending on the specific situation and the intended company strategy, different aspects of the patent position will be of primary importance. For that reason, for each IP audit, an assessment plan is drawn up and a team of specialists is formed, in close consultation with the principal. In many cases, advice of foreign colleagues is sought as well.