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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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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