Every company owns valuable intellectual assets.


Every business has valuable intellectual assets. Some intellectual assets are well-known and easy to recognize. Patents, trademarks, copyrights, for example, are the assets that typically come to mind when thinking about an intellectual property portfolio. However, intellectual assets are a much broader category of assets and encompass know-how and skills, information and databases, and all types of innovations. These assets may be less obvious and more difficult to quantify, but they are frequently a company’s most important intellectual assets.

For example, Company A builds and sells computers. It owns patents covering its computer technology and trademarks protecting its product names. However, those patents and trademarks are not its most important intellectual asset. Company A’s competitive advantage is its innovative build-to-order system, which differentiates it from the competition. The build-to-order system is the critical asset that must be recognized, protected, and leveraged.

Company B is an internet retailer. It does not think it has any intellectual assets. Upon careful review, however, it is determined that the company’s "one-click" online ordering system is the key differentiation from its competitors. Once identified, that innovation was patented and used effectively to block entry by its competitors.

In short, intellectual assets are those intangible assets that make a business unique and competitive. However, a company’s most valuable intellectual assets frequently are not its most obvious ones. One compelling reason for implementing IAM is facilitate the independent and objective review of a company’s products and services to discover assets that may be unrealized and unutilized.