Intangible assets – trademarks, patents, proprietary processes, among others – account for approximately two-thirds of the total assets of U.S. public companies, according to an article in Met. Corp. Counsel, Vol. 16, May 2008 at 18. The article even provides a formula to estimate the value of intangibles of a firm [Q]: the intangible value equals the difference when you subtract from 1 the result of 1 divided by its total market value [MV] divided by its book value [BV]. That is Q = 1-1/(MV/BV). For example, if a company has a market value of $100 million and book value of $25 million, its intangible value is 75 percent.
Why, then, isn’t intellectual property — its development, protection and transactions – not a core competency of nearly every company (See my post of May 23, 2008: 12 references cited to core competencies.)? Why are patents viewed ambivalently in terms of legal expense (See my post of May 23, 2007: strategically invaluable, yet prosecution often a tactical commodity.).