Strategic Intellectual Property Offshoring Through Outsourcing

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Traditionally intellectual property (IP) offshoring has been used by multinational corporations as a way to reduce their global effective tax rates by holding their IP in low tax offshore jurisdictions. The 2009 relocation by McDonalds of its European head office to Geneva was reportedly motivated by the desire to take advantage of Switzerland’s relatively beneficial tax regime for profits derived from IP. McDonalds joins a growing list of companies including Procter & Gamble, Colgate – Palmolive, Google and Yahoo! that have moved the management and exploitation of IP to jurisdictions such as Switzerland, Holland and Ireland for tax reasons.

While the world’s largest corporations have always had the resources and the global reach to restructure their IP in this way, the emergence of IP as the central asset of many companies means that a global approach to holding and exploiting IP is something that companies with global ambitions can no longer afford to ignore irrespective of size and stage of development.

In this paper we explore how companies can apply financial services thinking in their IP strategy in order to structure their IP holdings to deliver operational and tax efficiencies on an international scale.

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