Project manager Noora Kiili met the Minions, a model example of highly profitable intangible assets, at the Brand Licensing Europe 2015 event.

Are your intangible assets lying around doing nothing?

You often hear the remark here in Finland that we have businesses and products, but the Swedes are better at branding and selling than us. What does it mean? It means that in Sweden, the intangible assets of businesses have been successfully commercialised.

In Finland The Moomins and Angry Birds represent some of the most effectively commercialised intangible rights. Tom of Finland is also fast joining them in the global conquest.

Movies and TV-series often have characters whose merchandising into consumer products is pretty obvious. A professional agent with IPR competence and a honed hunch for ideas sees however potential where it isn’t self-evident. Now would you have thought of creating a clothing collection out of Monopoly money or incorporating Good Year tyres into Adidas sneakers? The world’s leading art museums have also delightfully broadened their licensing partnerships and realised, for example, lovely furniture fabrics, wallpapers and quality toys out of the treasures in their collections.

Good partnerships can be born not only as a result of a long search but also by seizing timely opportunities. Guinness searched for years for a manufacturer of potato chips to produce snacks of high enough quality to be served in the company of their world-famous stout. A resourceful Finnish IPR agent got the idea of joining forces between the musician, Mike Monroe who was awarded the title of “Jewelry Wearer of the Year”, and traditional Kalevala jewelry. The collection produced in collaboration reached a whole new customer group, young men, and by the same token rejuvenated and renewed a slightly wilted company image. Other popular figures followed along the line – The Dudesons, Nightwish and hockey player Teemu Selänne.

Information, expertise, experiences and operating models are commercialisable intangible assets when they can be documented as a reproducible product, i.e. format. This is what TV programme formats, the gym group fitness programmes Sumba, Less Mills etc., the Method Putkisto body work method, Sana Yoga and many other concepts are all based on. Franchising chains partly operate with the same principle – services, customer promises and products are formatted into a package under an overarching brand.

The most important qualities of an IPR agent are an ability to see surprising partnership opportunities and to be a bold and fearless seller. We all enjoy unprejudiced shows of partnership – ones like the successful product collaborations and ethical solutions of the Finlayson company. The Tom of Finland duvet covers launched near the season of spring graduation parties received a huge amount of publicity. Finland’s Slot Machine Association RAY licensed characters from the Putous sketch comedy TV show as a drawcard for their own games.     

Intangible rights include copyrights, patents, protection for design, and trademarks. Intangible assets can however also be domains, personal brands, and knowledge, a certain operating model, slogans and names. It is all these that are often referred to when speaking about brands. The Finnish marketing guru Jari Sarasvuo earned more with his personal brand than less known experts lecturing in the field.

Right now the atmosphere of social discussion in Finland, suffering from a lack of vision, needs firm belief, shared efforts and ideas regarding opportunities of growth in the field of business. We have good ingredients for creating new and successful business – skills and intangible capital both in companies and in the Finnish brands, nature, food products, and services.

The online service assists businesses in finding the right expert who one may commission to build a successful product development project or a long-term plan for developing an intangible asset.

An IPR agent can recognise hidden intangible rights in a business and opportunities to commercialise them. An IPR agent observes, comes up with ideas, finds buyers, sells, negotiates and produces and oversees agreements, ensuring that the parties involved get what is agreed upon. With proper licensing partners it can become significantly easier to open entirely new markets.

“Intangible assets as a resource for businesses” is a new national ESF funded sparring and development programme carried out in Cursor Oy, the Kotka-Hamina Regional Development Company, until the end of 2016.