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Aon Intellectual Property Assets Briefing - June 2022

Thoughts from the Aon Team 

There’s no question that our world has become increasingly volatile, with more uncertainty and risk. This has affected all aspects of business, including intellectual property (IP). 

Our research has consistently shown two key trends related to IP. First, IP is undervalued, under-protected and underappreciated as a source of value to companies. Second, IP typically retains significant value throughout economic downturns. As companies face disruption, they must find ways to leverage all their available assets, including IP, to deflect potential risk, add liquidity, and protect future revenue streams. 

Using IP to access non-dilutive growth capital unlocks incredible opportunities for organizations that understand the value of their IP and strategically manage it. Since launching the concept of IP-backed lending in October 2020, we’ve been encouraged by the growing demand and increasing market momentum for these solutions. Earlier this month, we brought together 100 participants in the IP-backed lending space for two days of discussions on the insights, trends and challenges to help scale these solutions and improve deal and business outcomes. While this market is still in its infancy, it is exciting to see the enthusiasm for the opportunities across the IP Backed Lending ecosystem and the business community at large.   

As always, thank you for reading and if you have any questions or comments, please let us know. 

Lewis Lee, CEO, Aon IP Solutions 


Aon in the News

  • Aon was featured by Fast Company for using data science to help establish intellectual property as a recognized asset class. Using IP-backed lending, Aon can implement a thorough IP valuation to support companies seeking to use their IP as collateral for a loan.
  • Earlier this month Aon launched a global positioning campaign to tell a broader story around the firm being in the business of better decisions. 
  • Aon formed a partnership with PayPal to integrate Aon’s CoverWallet small-business insurance product into PayPal’s digital offering.
  • Aon's Chief Innovation Officer was interviewed ahead of the Future Human conference about how the company continues to create solutions to address new and complex challenges.


Executive Insights

  • Intellectual property and patent disputes are at the top of tech companies’ list of legal concerns, according to a Norton Rose Fulbright survey. Most technology respondents said they were most concerned with the potential drain on resources due to the prevalence of patent trolls, with 46% of tech companies listing patent disputes as the most concerning compared to 16% across all industries. Many respondents said they plan to expand their legal teams to handle IP litigation. 
    • A research firm in the UK found that litigation funders are increasingly looking at IP disputes as a means of making money. Eight of the UK’s 10 biggest litigation funders are now seeking to bankroll intellectual property disputes, mostly targeting small startups that sue large U.S. tech firms for trademark infringement.
  • BlackBerry is exploring other options to sell its patents after its prospective buyer, Catapult IP Innovations, said it had not yet secured financing for the deal. BlackBerry had agreed to sell its patents primarily related to mobile devices, messaging and wireless networking for $600 million.
  • Ford can no longer produce or sell internet-linked cars in Germany after a court there ruled that the company violated wireless technology patents. Ford is said to have 4G cellular chips built into its vehicles for which the company has not paid licensing fees, underscoring a growing tension for automakers as they incorporate more technologies used in navigation systems, vehicle communications and self-driving in cars. One media analysis found that the world’s largest carmakers faced double the amount of patent litigation in 2021.
  • A Federal Circuit Court will determine whether an artificially intelligent robot can be deemed the inventor of a patent. The U.S. Copyright Office was sued by Stephen Thaler, the president and CEO of Imagination Engines, after the agency denied his copyright registration application on the basis that the inventor’s AI “lacks the human authorship necessary to support a copyright claim.” Thaler filed and lost similar suits in the UK, Europe and Australia, but found support from a court in South Africa.
  • A federal judge is set to hear the arguments in a lawsuit that seeks compensation for the descendants of Henrietta Lacks, a patient whose cells were collected during treatment and then used for cancer research. The cell line helped in the development of successful vaccines and led to billions in profits for pharmaceutical companies, meaning the lawsuit could determine who has the right to control and profit from medical discoveries when biological materials have been taken from a person without consent.

Latest data show that intangible assets comprise 90% of the value of the S&P 500 companies - IP Closeup / Source: Ocean Tomo Intangible Asset Market Value Study


News of Interest

  • Has Russia legalised intellectual-property theft? - The Economist - 6/6/2022
    • Outbound Virality: Facebook: 253 Interactions; Twitter: 438 Tweets
    • Russia’s move is not illegal under international law. Countries are allowed to make exemptions to patent rules in a national emergency. Cumbersome paperwork and tedious price negotiations can cause delays. But some compensation, no matter how paltry, is expected. Under Russia’s new law, though, patent holders could get nothing.
  • Chinese interest in US ag assets could pose security risks, federal report says - Agri-Pulse - 5/26/2022
    • Outbound Virality: Facebook: 170 Interactions; Twitter: 51 Tweets
    • China’s push to achieve self-sufficiency, which has incentivized the nation to purchase, and even steal, agricultural assets in other countries, could present risks to the economic and national security of the United States, warns a  report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
  • Demystifying NFTs: intellectual property protections with design patents - Reuters - 6/1/2022
    • Outbound Virality: Facebook: 3 Interactions; Twitter: 14 Tweets
    • One thing is clear: Designs must have an ornamental — meaning visual — component to meet the current patent law requirements. If the underlying asset is only a sound, then a design patent would not be able to protect that asset. But, if the underlying asset is a digital design visible on a computer screen, then design protection may be possible.
  • Sen. Josh Hawley’s Move to Strip Disney’s Copyrights Called ‘Blatantly Unconstitutional’ - Variety - 5/10/2022
    • Outbound Virality: Facebook: 5.4K Interactions; Twitter: 9.7K Tweets
    • Hawley’s bill would dramatically rewrite U.S. copyright law, shortening the total term available to all copyright holders going forward by several decades. It would also seek to retroactively limit Disney’s copyrights, effectively stripping the company of much of its intellectual property, in a move that would face several legal obstacles.
  • Dr. Seuss working with bankers on value of lucrative IP - Axios - 5/10/2022
    • Outbound Virality: Facebook: 53 Interactions; Twitter: 43 Tweets
    • Dr. Seuss is the No. 1 literary license in the U.S. by print sales, according to data from NPD BookScan. It sells more copies than any other IP-based book, including for both children and adults, as Axios has reported. [...] As other major kids-focused production and intellectual property companies begin to sell, it's looking to understand its options and market value.


Social Contribution

  • Bryce Baschuk @bbaschuk 16 May Scoop: The US rejected China's offer to opt out of a @wto patent waiver for vaccines, saying the text needs to clearly exclude China. This may jeopardize a nearly 2-year effort to ease IP rules for producing Covid-19 vaccines 
  • The Economist @TheEconomist 30 May About 23% of America’s patents are produced by immigrants 
  • Reuters @Reuters 18 May The U.N. secretary-general called for a global coalition to speed the deployment of battery technology, urging countries to ease intellectual property constraints to hasten the transition from fossil fuels and combat climate change 
  • Science Magazine @ScienceMagazine 20 May Women comprise 29% of the #STEM workforce but only 12.8% of US patent inventors. A new #LetterToScience argues for ways that institutions can address patent gender disparities. 
  • UN Biodiversity @UNBiodiversity 24 May The Cultural Intellectual Property Rights Initiative is supporting the cultural intellectual property rights of craftsmen and women. Their work is part of the Action Agenda #ForNature and People. Learn more and register your own action. 

Aon’s Intellectual Property Solutions team helps clients identify, protect, and maximize value from their most valuable assets in today’s business world, their intellectual property. Aon brings the best minds and strong analytical tools to provide a comprehensive approach to intellectual property strategy, valuation and risk management across a client’s business -- aligning current and future intellectual property assets with a businesses’ overarching strategy.

For more information about Aon’s Intellectual Property Solutions, please contact  

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