IP Management: Brand Royalties for a Fuel Company

01 June 2011
By Dr. Alexander Voegele, Bastian Gottschling, and Philip de Homont

This article, by Dr. Alexander Voegele, Bastian Gottschling, and Philip de Homont, is the sixth in a series of ten articles produced by International Tax Review on tax-effective intellectual property management. The article examines how to value the brand of a fuel company and determine a fair brand royalty. When tax authorities in one major country denied the deductibility of brand royalties of a large multinational fuel company, it had to prove that motorists are willing to pay not just for fuel, but also for a brand itself. The tax authorities argued that motorists would not pay extra for the brand and only cared about other factors, such as the location of fuel stations, the price of the fuel, the friendliness of service staff, and the presence of convenient stores. In turn the fuel company asked NERA to find out how much motorists would pay extra for the brand. NERA's approach was based on a simple methodology that was carried out rigorously: directly asking motorists how much more they would pay through a consumer survey and then conducting an economic analysis of the results to determine the benefit to the local companies in terms of increased profits. NERA proved that the brand was in fact important to motorists, that considerable discounts would be needed to compel them to switch to other stations, and that the royalties therefore should be tax deductible.