New white paper denounces brand valuation rankings

BVWireIssue #175-4
April 26, 2017

BVWire has been given an advance look at a white paper that calls for the end of public brand value rankings. The paper explains why the rankings are “nonsense” and also points out that they can come back to haunt a company that was proud to be high on the list. It mentions the recent case in which Amazon transferred a bundle of IP assets including various European trademarks from the U.S. to a subsidiary in Luxembourg. The IRS challenged the valuations, claiming Amazon transferred the assets too cheaply and improperly avoided taxes. The IRS pointed to Amazon’s high brand value rankings by Interbrand, Millward Brown, and Brand Finance. In fact, the IRS hired Brand Finance, which valued the transferred brands at $3.125 billion. Amazon’s experts, Willamette Management Associates, concluded a value of $282 million. After a long and expensive battle, the Tax Court’s opinion resulted in a value of around $500 million—and the values from the public brand rankings ended up being meaningless.

The white paper, which has not yet been released, is titled “We Have Had Enough. Ten Reasons to Stop the Brand Value Rankings” and is from Markables, a firm that maintains a database of global trademark valuations.

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