Understanding the Value in Intellectual Property – A Sharing Session by the Licensing Executives Society (Singapore) (“LES”), and an Exclusive Interview with the President of LES

Contributed by: Lenon Ong of the IPSA Core Team

Edited by: Benjamin Ho of the IPSA Core Team

On 23 October 2019, the Intellectual Property Students’ Association (“IPSA”) had the opportunity to attend an event held by the Licensing Executives Society (Singapore) (“LES”) and RSM Singapore.

LES Treasurer and Partner at RSM, Terence Ang (left), and LES President and Partner at Rajah & Tann Singapore, Lionel Tan (right)

LES Treasurer and Partner at RSM Singapore, Terence Ang, presented on the topic of Intellectual Property (“IP”) valuation in a session titled, “Understanding the Value in Intellectual Property”. The event was an informative session on how accounting firms calculate the value of intangible assets, and the event concluded with a networking session over pizza and handcrafted beer.

Interview with Mr Lionel Tan, President of LES

IPSA also had the opportunity to interview the President of LES, Mr Lionel Tan, who is concurrently a Partner at Rajah & Tann Singapore!

  • How important is the knowledge of IP rights for businesses today?

The knowledge of IP is vital for all businesses today. With the Singapore government’s calls for companies to find new and innovative ways to carry out their business, this will involve companies either creating or obtaining new technologies and techniques to re-invent themselves or create more productive workflows. In the creating or obtaining of new technologies, this will inevitably mean a need to have a good knowledge of IP laws to find cost efficient ways to achieve these objectives.

  • How can businesses better commercialise their intellectual property and intangible assets?

Businesses need to adopt an IP strategy in order to better commercialise their IP and intangible assets. The first step would be to conduct a mapping exercise whereby all the IP and intangible assets that a company possesses or creates is identified. An inventory of such IP and intangible assets will prove valuable in identifying workflows and how IP and intangible assets are created. Thereafter, some market research can be conducted to identify if there is any unique need in the market for any of their IP or intangible assets and approach the relevant parties to consider licensing these assets. It is also possible for businesses to consider entering cross-licensing deals with other companies to obtain access to other valuable IP in order to develop new products or services.  

  • What are the benefits of licensing IP?

The benefits of licensing IP is to obtain the monetary rewards from the investment expended to create the IP or intangible assets.  Where a company has a strong reputation of licensing their IP, this also showcases that the company is highly innovative as it can create IP which is highly valued in the market. Moreover, this adds to the brand value of the company as an innovative player in its industry.

  • What are the common misconceptions of IP?

The common misconception is that it is highly expensive to protect IP and that it is only the purview of large companies with deep pockets.  With a good knowledge of IP management, it is possible to have IP protection at a reasonable amount, and potentially create additional cashflows for the company through licensing deals. 

  • What are the considerations relating to IP which businesses would often overlook?

Many businesses, especially the smaller ones, are concerned with the short-term and meeting the immediate challenges. Hence, there is a tendency to overlook the importance of protecting their IP. Due to lack of awareness, many smaller businesses do not conduct sufficient due diligence before launching new products or services. In the event that their products or services infringe another third party’s IP rights, and that they face an infringement claim, they would have invested a considerable amount of time and expenses in marketing and developing the new product or services.

  • What do you find the most satisfying about your career as a legal practitioner in IP and technology law?

The constant need to keep abreast of new developments in the law relating to technology and IP is the most satisfying.  Many challenging new areas like Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, autonomous vehicles, and the Internet of Things all pose new legal challenges which require intensive study, collaboration and discussions to resolve. To be at the cutting edge of such legal developments keeps the legal practice in this area novel and stimulating as Singapore heads towards becoming a Smart City.

  • What should law students do if they are keen to pursue a legal career in the field of IP and technology, or if they wish to learn more about IP outside the curriculum?

Attend external seminars, webinars or talks on IP or technology that are open to the public. Apply for internships at suitable law firms that specialise in this area or do a short stint at a technology related company. Join organisations like the Licensing Executives Society (Singapore) and volunteer at their events to network with IP professionals from various industries.

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