“Trademark IKEA is now Dutch”, was the headline in many Dutch media yesterday. But is this really true? We wish. So, what was this news about then?
Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad manages a holding in Liechtenstein, called Interogo. This company was the owner of the trademark IKEA. The company has now sold the trademark to its daughter company Inter Ikea Systems in The Netherlands. For nine billion euro. Nine billion!!
According to Ikea this is part of an internal simplification of Ikea’s company structure. As of now the Ikea-concept is being managed from The Netherlands. But as soon as there are valuable intellectual property assets involved, there is more to the story.
The Netherlands, like Liechtenstein, Switzerland and the Cayman Islands are tax friendly countries for companies. That is why many large companies manage their companies and their company’s IP from one of these countries. All revenue from Apple’s iTunes flows through their Luxembourg company iTunes S.a.r.l. Bands like U2 and The Rolling Stones manage their IP and licensing out of Holland. Because this way the pay less tax. This is not tax evasion, but a smart way of handling tax legislation.
A company’s IP can be worth a lot. And more and more companies are taking measures, within the legal boundaries, to pay as less tax as possible. As anyone in their right mind would.
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