How to maximize the value of your software IP

Your company's software could be worth a small fortune even if you no longer need it. Here's how to extract the most value from your intellectual property.

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Last month, BlackBerry announced that it was quitting the phone-making business, but the BlackBerry name will live on. That's because the company has entered into a licensing agreement with an Indonesian company that will manufacture, distribute and promote BlackBerry-branded devices running BlackBerry software.

The situation is similar at Nokia. The Finnish company left the feature phone business it used to dominate and instead is licensing its name and numerous patents to two companies — one Chinese and one Finnish — that will work together to produce Nokia-branded handsets.

Both Nokia and BlackBerry happen to be phone companies, but what's more relevant is the fact that both companies have made a pivot and abandoned businesses that were no longer profitable to concentrate on other, more promising activities. And for both companies, part of the exit strategy was to get the most value from the software they had developed but no longer needed, along with the associated intellectual property (IP).

Maximizing value

Businesses can (and do) pivot all the time, so an important question for any CIO to ask is this: "Am I taking all possible steps to ensure that the value of our software will be maximized in the event that we decide to license or sell it and exit our current field of business?"

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