OxFirst is an advisory firm specialized in law and economics. Its expertise covers IP valuation and strategy. Dr Roya Ghafele is an accredited damage expert. Below is our recent interview with Dr Roya Ghafele, Executive Director at OxFirst:
Q: Dr Ghafele, you led OxFirst for the third time in a row to the award ‘Best IP Valuation Firm’ in the UK. What’s the secret of your success?
A: Key to such a success are OxFirst’s cutting edge insights on the economics of intellectual property. The intellectual property valuations we undertake have helped the entrepreneurs we work with to significantly improve the state of play of their firms.
The OxFirst IP valuations have been instrumental in trading or selling IP. They have also been key to a firm’s business strategy. As such, they have been crucial elements in a company’s success. With the help of an OxFirst IP valuation a company can more easily achieve its goals; no matter what these goals may be.
OxFirst has undertaken dozens of IP valuations. They have helped firms maximize profits, save costs, refine their strategy or attract the attention of potential investors.
The reason why the OxFirst IP valuations are so successful is that they communicate in a swift and simple manner why IP matters to the company. They put a price tag on intellectual property. This turns otherwise intangible assets into a very tangible business opportunity.
Q: Dr Ghafele, how does it make you feel to have won the Award by Global 100?
A: I would like to thank our clients and those who voted for us. Their trust and confidence in our work has been recognized through this award. Such a success would however not been possible without the support of the great team we have at OxFirst.
The award also shows that the practice of IP valuation is gaining momentum. As companies start realizing that all their assets, be they tangible or intangible in nature, can be valuable, they turn to ask how they can maximize their profits. An IP valuation is a key element to achieving this.
This award is a strong confirmation that the tech community is seeking out ever new avenues to succeed. I feel very privileged that the OxFirst IP valuations are a key part of this.
Q: Dr Ghafele, why does IP valuation matter?
A: Can you manage what you cannot measure?
Without the adequate economic assessment of intellectual property, a host of different business moves are ruled out. The IP itself constitutes a resource that can be decoupled from the company. As such, it can be a source of income in itself.
IP can however also support a firm in reaching its overarching business goals. Expressing in monetary terms the value of intellectual property can allow a firm to understand the worth of a licensing rate, the potential value of a damage award or the economic risk associated with an injunction. It can also equip a firm with the ability to optimize its technology strategy, enter joint ventures or join a patent pool. Optimizing costs also becomes much easier with the support of an IP valuation.
In the absence of an adequate IP valuation, the IP department continues to be seen as a cost center and it is very difficult to understand how the IP relates to overarching corporate performance.
Q: Dr Ghafele, from your experience, are entrepreneurs considering the value of their intellectual property?
A: IP can serve as an instrument of trade and exchange. Entrepreneurs eager to benefit from a series of IP business opportunities should start very early on to value their IP.
Firms should undertake an IP valuation as early on as possible. This gives them a clear advantage in the market. Historically, the IP advantage has been seen merely in its ability to exclude others. With the help of an IP valuation more business options open up. An IP valuation gives you the chance to provide liquidity for your company.
Q: What is the most crucial institutional change needed to promote the valuation of IP?
A: There is a need to raise further awareness about the many opportunities provided by an IP valuation. Entrepreneurs are too easily satisfied with a brief freedom to operate analysis. I tend to think this is because they don’t know what they don’t know.
The valuation of IP allows to see IP more systematically through an Open Innovation perspective and can serve as an instrument to grow and nurture business relations. As such, it is important to catch the attention of key decision makers, so to help them understand how they succeed on the grounds of an IP valuation.
Q: Dr Ghafele, can you give me some examples of IP valuations you undertook?
A: Just recently, OxFirst accomplished an IP valuation for a company that literally seeks to turn trash into gold. Under the tag name ‘urban mining’ this firm seeks to extract gold from old mobile phones and computers. OxFirst valued the patents underlying this technology. OxFirst was able to lead this company on a path of novel revenue generation. We established a licensing program for them, helped them determine a licensing rate and also assured the identification of first clients. In addition, the IP valuation helped the firm to re-assess its worth. This in turn was a helpful support of the firm’s investor communication.
Another recent IP valuation we undertook was in the conversational software space. The firm owns ‘Siri’ type software. The OxFirst IP valuation helped the firm in its negotiation with lenders and contributed to assessing the value of the firm and its potential to generate future cash flows.
Q: Dr Ghafele, what role will IP valuation play for technology markets?
A: I predict that the need to value of IP will significantly increase in the next three to five years. IP plays a major role in high tech markets. Yet, it is precisely those markets that will be expecting double digit growth rates. As markets such as Artificial Intelligence, autonomous vehicles or the Internet of Things are gaining momentum, the intellectual property that underlies these technologies will equally grow in importance. To capitalize on such important trends, it will be crucial to value IP and to understand it through an economic lens. This will allow entrepreneurs to work their capital much harder. Through OxFirst, I aim to contribute to leading firms through this journey.