In the complex world of mergers and acquisitions (M&A), intellectual property (IP) assets often emerge as critical factors that can make or break a deal. In the Philippines, where IP laws have their unique set of complexities, understanding the nuances is even more crucial. This article aims to provide an in-depth look into how to conduct IP due diligence in the Philippine context during an M&A transaction.
Intellectual Property Inventory
Creating a complete inventory of the company’s IP assets is the foundational step. This includes identifying all patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets that the company owns or licenses. The inventory serves as a roadmap, helping both parties understand what is at stake. Accurate valuation and strategic planning can only occur when you know exactly what IP assets are involved.
Ownership and Control
Clarifying ownership and control of IP assets is the next critical step. Many deals have fallen apart because of misunderstandings or conflicts over IP ownership. All IP assets must be either legally owned or controlled by the company. Pay special attention to any joint ownership arrangements and understand how they impact control and revenue sharing. It’s also essential to consider IP owned by subsidiaries, as these can significantly affect the transaction’s value and complexity.
Compliance and Regulation
Being compliant with both local and international laws is not just a legal necessity but also a valuation factor. Always check the IP assets’ standing with the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines and other relevant bodies. If the IP has international reach, make sure it complies with the laws of those jurisdictions and international treaties.
A detailed financial assessment of IP assets is non-negotiable. This includes obtaining professional valuation reports, understanding the revenue streams tied to the IP, and recognizing the costs of maintaining these assets. Knowing the financials in and out can offer insights into the return on investment and help to structure the deal better.
Litigation and Risks
Uncovering any ongoing or past litigation related to IP assets is essential. Any legal issue can not only diminish the IP’s value but can also bring reputational risks. A thorough risk assessment should be conducted to identify potential challenges or vulnerabilities in the IP portfolio. Knowing these risks upfront can help in making an informed decision.
Agreements and Contracts
Reviewing all existing agreements and contracts related to the IP is crucial. This includes licensing agreements, non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), and employee contracts that specify IP ownership. These documents can significantly impact the revenue streams, control, and overall value of the IP assets.
It’s not just about the present; one must also consider the future. Understand what IP is currently in development and how it aligns with the acquiring company’s future strategies. Additionally, it’s essential to assess any plans the company has for leveraging this IP for market expansion or penetration into new domains