Google cloud storage terms may raise valuation questions

A recent item in The Chief Officers’ Network called our attention to the terms under which users subscribe to Google’s cloud storage services:

“When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes that we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.

“The rights that you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing that you have added to Google Maps).”

Google’s terms for Google Docs are similar, adding a clause that states the user’s IP remains the user’s. But what if a user’s knowhow is interspersed throughout content stored in the cloud, and what if this know-how is proprietary, representing trade secrets? How would trade secrets (IP) content be treated differently by Google?

Compliance issues go beyond this blog space, but are healthcare records being stored in the cloud?

Are corporate and IP counsel and Chief Intellectual Property Officers allowing a company to use Google’s cloud storage without strict controls on who is uploading and what is being uploaded?

The list of due diligence questions for valuation analysts continues to grow. In the study BVR is putting together benchmarking hundreds of purchase price allocations (to be released in June), content is an identifiable intangible asset that needs to be valued, especially in media companies. Is the value of content affected by whether or not it is stored on Google?