Friday, January 02, 2009

From Assets to Profits: New Book on Intellectual Property

If intellectual property never comes of age as a mainstream topic for investors and corporate strategists, it won't be Bruce Berman's fault.

As CEO of Brody Berman Associates in New York, a communications and management consulting firm that focuses on innovative businesses and intellectual assets, Berman has been a tireless proponent of the importance of IP and attendant issues. Not coincidentally, he's also quite a networker in the community of IP thinkers and practitioners.
Those two characteristics have enabled Berman to assemble some of the better books on the subject of IP -- including his new offering, From Assets to Profits, which follows Making Innovation Pay (2005) and From Ideas to Assets (2002), all from John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Contributors to the current volume (along with Berman himself) include the heads of IP business at Hewlett-Packard Co. and Goldman Sachs; the former head of IP business at Lucent and IBM Research; and IBM Corp.'s former VP of IP strategy, among others. Each in turn examines a facet of IP. A few highlights:
Berman kicks things off with a chapter on IP investing and the spectrum of people--some controversial, some less so--who do it. "Has today's more contentious, bottom-line approach for managing IP rights improved innovation, patent quality, or increased shareholder value?" he asks. "Probably. But you won't hear most strategic IP owners admitting that."
John A. Squires chief IP counsel for Goldman Sachs & Co., contributes a chapter on IP in financial services. In finance, Squires says, "patents are generally designed for, and deployed primarily by, the founders of the venture as a functional edge for the operational risk that the venture may incur in the future." Squires goes on to show how patent issues figured in the formation and launch of Regulatory DataCorp LLC (RDC), a for-profit database and interdiction software venture now owned by twenty of the world ' s leading financial institutions.
Another interesting chapter is "The Evolving Role of IP in M&A: From deal-breaker to deal-maker." This one was written by Ron Laurie, the veteran silicon valley IP lawyer who wrote the first internet business-method patent, for Priceline's reverse auction. "IP," he writes, "was traditionally viewed in M&A transactions as a possible deal-breaker, effectively an afterthought that IP lawyers attended to. When it came to consummating a transaction, these professionals were much more likely to regard all news as bad news."
Today, Laurie says, IP in M&A is starting to be seen as an important deal facilitator that bankers, private equity capital providers, and others need to understand from the start.
You can find out more about the book (and about Berman) on the Brody Berman website.

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