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Intellectual property has become a major topic even in the mainstream media as companies like Google Inc., Microsoft Corporation, Apple Inc., and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. wage bitter battles over patented technology. In the C-suite, strategic and tactical decisions are being made about acquiring and selling sizable IP portfolios. The stakes are high. In 2011, an industry consortium paid $4.5 billion to acquire 6,000 patents from the bankrupt Canadian telecom equipment maker Nortel Networks Corporation. Outbid by the consortium, Google went on to acquire Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. for $12.5 billion and although not explicitly stated, it was widely believed that a major motivation for this transaction was Motorola’s portfolio of 17,000 patents—patents that could help Google defend itself and its partners against lawsuits relating to its Android software. Believing Motorola’s patent portfolio was actually an undervalued asset, iconic investor Carl Icahn observed that Google is “getting the patent portfolio relatively cheaply.” These strategic patent purchases raise interesting questions about the value of IP and its role in corporate strategy. How are patent portfolio values calculated and how do consortium participants determine their contribution amounts? How should consortiums split the benefits? If litigation ensues, how will the value of these patents be determined? To definitively prove the value of IP, its worth must be documented with actual evidence. As former President Ronald Reagan famously said, “Trust, but verify.” The more information a company has specific to its purchased or internally developed IP, the better.

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