Tuesday, June 18, 2013

IPR asset management in ASEAN

Managing and owning IP assets in South East Asia is increasingly a strategic issue for companies in the region.  Larger corporations have multiple operating entities and Singapore attracts public listings from regional companies. This allows selection of an IP owning entity. This may be driven by financial reasons such as ensuring sufficient liquidity or assets on the balance sheets in different entities.  High tax cost jurisdictions like Vietnam and Indonesia inadvertently encourage regional tax planning through royalty flows which increase  operating costs, so reduce profit.
Singapore actively markets itself as an IP hub offering tax and other breaks to companies to manage IP (through ownership and licensing) and even to trade IP there. Malaysia is trying to provide IP advantages such as its recently launched IP Valuation system to help put a clear monetary value on IP. Hong Kong is also a popular place to hold and manage IP, again for favourable tax and control reasons. Both offer greater legal certainty in disputes too, compared to many ASEAN legal systems, even promoting dispute resolution advantages to attract IP ownership.
Care must be taken not to evade tax, so proper financial advice is needed before deciding where to own IP. This must be combined with IP advice, so you choose the right jurisdiction for you. Hong Kong for example is not in the Madrid system but Singapore is. There may be transaction costs (set up fees or IP transfer fees) to using a holding company too. And you may need resident company officers e.g. in Singapore. 
There are many considerations to this issue, and good multi jurisdiction and multi disciplinary advice is needed to seek the advantage needed. But IP financial, control and security risks can be mitigated this way.



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