Automating IP Management

Air Products looks to software to transform intellectual property into a moneymaking proposition

Pasadena, CA  October 22, 2002  Air Products and Chemicals is set to begin using software and Web-based tools from PLX Systems to manage its intellectual assets and patent holdings and to wring more profits from its intellectual property.

Lehigh Valley, Pa.-based Air Products serves customers in technology, energy, healthcare and industrial markets worldwide, providing atmospheric gases, process and specialty gases, performance materials, and chemical intermediates. The $5.7 billion company, with 18,000 employees, is the largest global supplier of electronic materials, hydrogen, helium and select performance chemicals.

The gases company will incorporate PLX Systems' PLXware and PLXsource. The solution provider said its PLXsource is a Web-based database that enables managers of intellectual property (IP) to compare and price intellectual property for mergers, acquisitions and divestitures; craft franchise, division-to-division, arms-length, cross-licensing and royalty agreements; and appraise patents and trademarks for donation to universities.

Companies can also use the solution to help resolve trademark and patent disputes, evaluate contracts, and negotiate payment and termination terms, according to the solution provider.

Vince Magnotta, manager for technology transfer in the Corporate Technology Partnership Group at Air Products, explained that the company has historically used patents to protect and defend what it invents, such as the process used to make hydrogen fuel for the Space Shuttle, or the precursors electronic materials used to create semiconductor devices.

"Today's business climate requires a change in strategy to extract more value from our patents, such as cluster licensing, donations and other active patent asset management activities," said Magnotta. "PLX promises to be an enterprise platform to automatically inventory our intellectual property, value it in real-life business scenarios and apply the results to the bottom-line"

PLXsource features a "comparables database" from PLX investor Ernst & Young that helps IP managers analyze and determine the value of intangible assets by comparing the specifics of more than 12,000 different business deals.

"The PLX comps database is analogous to the auto 'Blue Book,'" said Magnotta. "Part of our interest in PLX is its claim to be a viable platform for computing IP market comparables. It should provide valuable 'go-bys' to support our valuations."

PLXsource underlies PLXware, a suite of software tools for valuing and managing intellectual property. The tools include portfolio management, valuation analytics, financial accounting, audit control, decision support and reporting through the life of the asset. This suite can help managers track and manage intangible assets in the face of greater regulation by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) scrutiny from investors and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).