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Understand the Value of Intellectual Property in Your Business

Understand the Value of Intellectual Property in Your Business
Welcome to our module on intellectual property. Intellectual property is hugely important in today’s business world. And to start our discussion, and to understand the importance of intellectual property, I think we should first step back and ask, well, what are the types of property, and how does intellectual property fit in? And fundamentally, property is divided into two categories. We have tangible property that you can touch. An intangible property that is non-physical. So little bit of a challenge for you. What I’d like you to do, is to hit pause and write down two types of tangible property, two examples, and two examples of intangible property. Hit pause and write those down.
Well, I’m not sure what you’ve written down, but again, tangible property is what you can touch. And so, you could’ve written down real estate, you could’ve written down buildings, you could’ve written down desks. [SOUND] You could have written down chairs. All of those are tangible property. And tangible property is divided into real property, which is immovable property, like real estate, and personal property, which is movable. So I’m sitting in a chair, here, which is an example of personal property. And the chair and the studio where we shooting this, is in a building, which would be an example of real property. And then, you’ve got sort of a blend.
You have something called a fixture, which was personal property, which has been a fixed to real property. One time personal, now it’s part of the real property. And fixtures cause all kinds of legal battles when you buy a house from somebody. The question is, who gets the fixtures? Sometimes the seller will walk away with some fixtures that the buyer thought should belong to the buyer. So those are the two broad categories of property. And then another question, what percentage of holdings, today, are tangible and what percent are intangible? For example, what percent are tangible in the form of plants, equipment, real estate, etc., and what percentage of business holdings are intangible? Please hit pause and write down your answer.
If I had asked you this a few decades ago, the answer would have been 75% of business holdings are tangible in the form of factories, equipment, etc., and 25% are intangible. In today’s world, intangible property, such as intellectual property, and mainly intellectual property, represents 70% of business holdings. That’s why intellectual property is so important. By the way, other forms of intangible property might include, for example, stocks and bonds. But, in today’s world, intellectual property is huge. So what is intellectual property? Here’s an example from the World Intellectual Property Organization. Intellectual property is creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs and symbols, names and images used in commerce.
Now, intellectual property is a very specialized area of law. It’s a very technical area of law. And I wanted to get the very best person available to teach this area because it is so specialized and technical. That person isn’t me. And so, luckily, at the University of Michigan, we have one of the leading intellectual property experts in the world, who teaches at the Michigan Law School, but, a huge bonus, she is also an intellectual property practitioner. Her name is Susan Kornfield. She’s practiced law for 30 years. She heads the Intellectual Property Practice at a leading law firm called Bodman PLC.
As I mentioned, she teaches at the University of Michigan Law School. She’s been an arbitrator for IP disputes. She’s on an advisory committee to Stanford on intellectual property matters. And she’s been selected, one of the best lawyers in America in the IP category. So I think you’re going to enjoy this presentation by Susan. She is a master at taking a very complex technical topic and making it understandable and giving you lots of very interesting examples. And her approach is going to be, first of all, to make sure that you understand IP, that you’re legally savvy. Second, she’s going to look at how you can protect your intellectual property rights. That is, the legal pillar, the law pillar, managing risk.
And then, finally, how can you create IP value for your investors? One big concern over the years with intellectual property, is that companies become so obsessed with protecting their intellectual property rights with the law pillar, that they forget that there are wonderful ways to create value. There was a book written a few years ago called Rembrandt’s in the Attic. And the analogy that the authors drew, was to having this valuable asset, a Rembrandt painting in your attic and not using it. Well In the past, intellectual property was like that Rembrandt in the attic. The focus was on protecting it and now a days, companies are unlocking that value.
So I am now going to turn the stage over to Susan Cornfield.
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