One of the major topics at our New Building Block conference on intangible assets last May was the need to different parts of a company to work together on intangibles. Too many parts of a company see intangible assets as the blind men understand the elephant with each believing that the small part he could feel constituted the whole: one said it is a rope (the tail); another, a wall (the body); another, a water spout (the trunk); and yet another, a tree trunk (the legs). Like the blind men, people experience intangibles from different points of view depending on their role and expertise, whether they are business managers, accountants, lawyers, risk managers, investors, or public policymakers.
A clear example of the need for the different parts to work together can be found in a recent posting over at BVR’s Intellectual Property Blog — “Appeals Court says Dish Network Corp. insurers must provide legal defense for patent infringement”. As the title suggests, the posting tells of a recent court case on a liability insurance case where the terms of the coverage were in dispute. Their bottom line:
IP managers should work closely with risk managers and monitor insurance policy addenda that now might try to re-define “advertising injury.”
I would broaden that finding some what, that IP managers and risk managers should always be working closely to make sure that their assets are both understood and properly protected. And that is but one small example of how everyone in a company needs to understand intangible assets.