As technology has become a crucial value driver in many industries, there is a growing need to price tech royalties for licensing negotiations, transfer pricing and valuation. A commonly used method of estimating IP royalties is by comparison to arm’s length royalties for assets deemed to be ‘comparable’ (referred to as the Comparable Uncontrolled Pricing method, or CUP).
Royalties are a profit sharing mechanism between IP owners and licensees. It follows that royalty determination should consider the drivers of tech earnings, and how a license apportions value between licensor and licensee.
Tech IP is extremely complex. Finding comparable royalties is difficult. This increases the importance of careful – rather than superficial - analysis. Here are 5 common benchmarking blindspots that can lead to royalties that deviate from commercial reality:
Technology assets are complex. Without informed comparability analysis, royalty opinions can become detached from commercial reality. Sometimes, the absence of appropriate comparables makes royalty benchmarking an inappropriate method, other times it necessitates the use of corroborating analysis.
In the context of related party transactions, OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines specify comparability factors that should be considered. However, even if a thorough CUP analysis is undertaken, tax authorities may in future wish to apply a more complex profit split method to deal with the complexities of intangible assets.
Royalty determination that reflects a 360˚ assessment of IP assets is part of Deloitte’s IP Advantage capability.