As I have alluded to in the past, intellectual property is a form of property. Which puts intellectual property professionals in a unique position. Specifically, their services are a form of investment.

Why? Because you can eventually sell the intellectual property portfolio those professionals helped you build. Unlike most services, all that time and money spent defining and cementing your rights does not disappear into the ether. It is recoupable in the form of doing something you cannot normally do with legal services: sell the outcome to someone else.

While one could make the case that a real estate listing recoups the cost of a successful divorce proceeding, I doubt those re-entering the dating pool see it that way. A similar case could be made for wills and estate law, but I very much doubt many are beaming with joy when those services are provided to or, especially, for them. And I have yet to see someone assign over their rights to an acquittal relating to a drunk and disorderly charge obtained during Frosh Week.

But with intellectual property, I see it all the time. The inventor who had the foresight to file a patent application before disclosing their innovation to a third-party. The product designer who got industrial design protection for their unique containers before the statutory deadlines expired. The marketing expert who filed the trade-mark application protecting a brand name which would eventually become known worldwide. All of these actions served a clear purpose: they increased the value of the underlying intellectual property and, in many instances, gave those owners an exclusive monopoly they otherwise would not have had.

And when those protected ideas bore fruit, the money invested in establishing those rights became one of the factors used in establishing a fair valuation. So the next time you are balancing your books remember: not all legal expenditures are expenses. Some are investments into assets owned and sellable by your business.