Keywords: technology assets, dormant technology, sleeping patents, licensing revenue, return on assets, return on intangibles
Intangible asset deployment in technology-rich companies: how does innovation affect return on assets?
This study seeks to characterise the nature and fundamental cause for the apparent persistent, systematic underutilisation of technology intangible assets worldwide. The effects of technology licensing on cash flow is examined, and the question is asked why, in the face of so much pressure to increase cash flows and advance the use of internally created technology, is technology licensing practised at such anaemic levels compared with other cash-generating activities? The problem may be due in part to the consistent failure on the part of most otherwise rational managers and scientists to view the IP assets under their control as financial assets. Stuck in an anachronistic legal mindset, they instead view their patents as static legal documents, locked up and brought out for use only in the event of litigation. This situation has taken and continues to take an enormous toll, both on the amount of cash that new technology would otherwise generate for its owners, and on the usage and dissemination of innovation worldwide.