New WIPO Study Gives First-Ever Figures on Value of "Intangible Capital" in Manufactured Goods

Source: WIPO

First-ever figures reveal that nearly one third of the value of manufactured products sold around the world comes from “intangible capital,” such as branding, design and technology, according to a WIPO study of the global value chains companies use to produce their goods.

This amount, some USD 5.9 trillion in 2014, shows that intangible capital contributes twice as much as buildings, machinery and other forms of tangible capital to the total value of manufactured goods. This underscores the growing role of intellectual property, which is frequently used to protect intangible and related assets in the worldwide economy.

The "World Intellectual Property Report 2017: Intangible Capital in Global Value Chains" (WIPR 2017) looks at how much income accrues to labor, tangible capital and intangible capital in global value chain production across all manufacturing activities, representing one quarter of total global economic output, with case studies focusing on coffee, solar panels and smartphones. It examined national accounts and international trade statistics from around the world and company data to provide these economic insights.

"Intangible capital will increasingly determine the fate and fortune of firms in today’s global value chains. It is behind the look, feel, functionality and general appeal of the products we buy and it determines success in the marketplace," said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. "Intellectual property, in turn, is the means by which companies secure the competitive advantage flowing from their intangible capital."