Whatever your plans are for your business in the longer term – whether you are looking at retirement for the present owners or seeking investment for the next stage of its growth – IP owned by the business can be a major factor in its valuation. The sooner you take action on this, the more chance you have of maximising the value.
There are several areas where IP can impact business value:
A surprising number of businesses rely on brands that they do not actually own. This can have a number of consequences:
> The brand might belong to someone else. This means that they could stop your company using it and possibly seek damages and costs in respect of the use you have made. This risk could well be discovered when due diligence is done, which could affect the business valuation adversely.
> The brand may be just a description of the products or services of the company, and therefore one that no-one can own. This means that the business does not really stand out from the crowd and so is not so attractive to a potential buyer or investor.
> If the company has a good brand, but does not own it, others could gain the benefit of using similar names, reducing the value of the brand.
Ownership of patents covering the company’s products can be attractive to potential investors and can also offer the company tax advantages. Patents don’t necessarily have to be for huge leaps forward – they can protect improvements to existing products and processes.
Product design can be important to the attractiveness of products on the market. While limited protection is afforded to new product designs automatically, much stronger (and longer) protection can be achieved by registering new designs. A good portfolio of registered designs can be attractive to potential investors/purchasers.
Many other things used by a company in its day-to-day business, such as photographs, brochures, business forms, websites, are protected by copyright, and it is important to establish that the company owns the copyright, or at least has a right to use copyright materials. Making sure that your company owns these assets (and therefore has the right to sell them on) can be critical to the sale of a business or attracting investment.
It is important not to leave consideration of a company’s IP position until the last minute. To maximise the potential value, you need to act as soon as possible. We offer an IP Review service to identify what your company does and does not own and to advise on what actions to take to make sure that, when you do want to realise the value in the company, there are no hidden IP liabilities, just IP assets.
Contact us now on 01522 801111 to arrange a review.