Intellectual Property Issues in Corporate-Commercial Transactions


When Volkswagen Group offered £430 million for the assets of Rolls-Royce Motors in 1998, legend has it that Volkswagen acquired the factory, plus the rights to certain brands, but not the famous Rolls-Royce trade-mark name. The Rolls-Royce brand was in fact controlled by aircraft-engine maker Rolls-Royce plc, not Rolls-Royce Motors. Thus, after the acquisition, Volkswagen had no rights to the valuable Rolls-Royce brand name, and they watched as rival BMW snapped up the trade-mark rights for £40 million. The lesson? Get advice on intellectual property (IP) issues when negotiating your business deal.

IP assets can be critical in the course of corporate-commercial transactions such as:

• the purchase and sale of business assets;

• equity investments or share sales;

• secured loans or credit facilities;

• buy-outs, mergers and take-overs.

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