IP Financing: the Ten Commandments

Author:Jeremy Phillips
Position:Professor, second article for the WIPO Magazine (see A Day in the Life of an IP Blog-Meister). In this article he lends a biblical cast to the "dos and don'ts" of IP Financing
SUMMARY

What does finance have to do with IP?. Thou shalt .... Thou shalt not .... Epilogue.

 
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What does finance have to do with IP?

In a word, everything. It costs money to develop new products, to prototype new gadgets, to get professional help and to pay official fees. Depressingly, while the IP owner only gets his reward if his creation results in a profitable venture, everyone else - banks, accountants, lawyers, market consultants, advertising agencies, patent and trademark registries - gets paid regardless of whether an IP-backed project hits the jackpot or sinks without a trace.

Innovation and creativity are bugs that afflict almost everyone, but most of us are born without money. So for those of us who are in the majority, we have to raise the money we need if we are to promote our creative talents to the full. This might mean a bank loan or mortgage (often in return for a share of any IP profits, or with the lender holding the IP right as security for repayment), a grant from public funds or even earning extra money by taking on a night job.

In each case, where an IP creator needs to raise that money, he also needs some guidance. Below are listed the 'Ten Commandments' that are applicable in almost every case. The advice they offer is only the beginning, though: they are no substitute for careful thought, strategic financial planning or professional advice.

Incidentally, where a creative individual is employed by someone else, the same Commandments still apply, but it is the employer who has to bear them in mind rather than the creative employee.

Thou shalt
  1. Identify your IP clearly. Inventors make inventions. Designers create designs. But it's the lawyers who create IP rights when they examine a newly-created concept and proclaim it to be comprised of various different intellectual properties. Thus an inventor may come up with a new torch, but to a legal specialist there's a patent for the functionality, a design for the shape, a possible trademark again for the shape, and so on. If you are pledging IP to a lender or licensing it to a manufacturer, be sure to know what exactly it is that you are dealing with.

  2. Read the small print in finance documents. Not just banks but all commercial lenders are sensitive about their money. They are as excited about their money, which is their principal asset, as the IP innovator is excited by his new creation. This is why they include terms in a contract for the financing of IP...

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