Would you call your house a “right”? We usually don’t and refer to our real estate as assets. This is what essentailly bothered Matthew J. Elsmore (Lektor, Associate Professor, Centre for International Business Law, Aarhus School of Business) at the IPKat blog were he was exploring the best ways to name his course aimed at the business people, rather than the lawyers. As I feel for years now that our societies entered into a phase where the IP issues stopped being privy to the lawyers and IP specialists and became a matter of vital interest for the economy and the population, I have looked for my own answers to this very same question.
I decided to use Intangible (IP) Assets terminology for describing the “IP Rights” when talking to non-lawyers. Businesspeople are more responsive to the “assets” term than to the “rights” term and it catches their attention better. When the “rights” elements of IP assets are emphasized then the whole IP portfolio ends up being managed by a law department and left into the hands of IP specialists, rather than being matter of focus by the business management as it would be fit for strategic assets, which IPRs truly are!I often use an analogy to better visualise this perception problem. I tell my listeners to imagine “rights” as a vessel and “assets” as a liquid that vessel is used to contain within. If we make wine and don’t have an appropriate vessel to use to transport it, the liquid will spill, evaporate or taint… This is why we use a vessel and convention has it that these are the bottles of certain shapes, defined by customes and practical experiences. In the same way the value of the asset will not be properly contained and it becomes difficult to manage, unless it is protected by a right of a certain “shape”.