Category: Intangibles – Goodwill Know-how Patents

In transfer pricing the word “intangible” is intended to address something which is not a physical asset or financial asset, which is capable of being owned or controlled for use in commercial activities, and whose use or transfer would be compensated had it occurred in a transaction between independent parties in comparable circumstances.

In discussions of transfer pricing various categories of intangibles are described and labels applied. Distinctions are sometimes made between trade intangibles and marketing intangibles, between “soft” intangibles and “hard” intangibles, between routine and non-routine intangibles, and between other classes and categories of intangibles.

Examples of intangibles are: Patents, Know-how and trade secrets, trademarks, trade names and brands, rights under contracts and government licences, licences and similar limited rights in intangibles, goodwill and ongoing concern value.

Denmark vs. Adecco A/S, June 2020, Supreme Court, Case no BS-42036/2019-HJR

Denmark vs. Adecco A/S, June 2020, Supreme Court, Case no BS-42036/2019-HJR

The question in this case was whether royalty payments from a loss making Danish subsidiary Adecco A/S (H1 A/S in the decision) to its Swiss parent company Adecco SA (G1 SA in the decision – an international provider of temporary and permanent employment services active throughout the entire range of sectors in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Asia – for use of trademarks and trade names, knowhow, international network intangibles, and business concept were deductible expenses for tax purposes or not. In  2013, the Danish tax authorities (SKAT) had amended Adecco A/S’s taxable income for the years 2006-2009 by a total of DKK 82 million. Adecco A/S submitted that the company’s royalty payments were operating expenses deductible under section 6 (a) of the State Tax Act and that it was entitled to tax deductions for royalty payments of 1.5% of the company’s turnover ... Continue to full case

Sweden vs Flir Commercial Systems AB, March 2020, Stockholm Administrative Court, Case No 28256-18

In 2012, Flir Commercial Systems AB sold intangible assets from a branch in Belgium and subsequently claimed a tax relief of more than SEK 2 billion in fictitious Belgian tax due to the sale. The Swedish Tax Agency decided not to allow relief for the Belgian “tax”, and issued a tax assessment where the relief of approximately SEK 2 billion was denied and a surcharge of approximately SEK 800 million was added. The Administrative Court concluded that the Swedish Tax Agency was correct in not allowing relief for the fictitious Belgian tax. A double taxation agreement applies between Sweden and Belgium. In the opinion of the Administrative Court, the agreement prevents Belgium from taxing the assets. Consequently, any fictitious tax cannot be deducted. The Administrative Court also considers that the Swedish Tax Agency was correct in imposing a tax surcharge and that there is no ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs Pharma Distributor A A/S, March 2020, National Court, Case No SKM2020.105.OLR

Denmark vs Pharma Distributor A A/S, March 2020, National Court, Case No SKM2020.105.OLR

Results in a Danish company engaged in distribution of pharmaceuticals were significantly below the arm’s length range of net profit according to the benchmark study, but by disregarding annual goodwill amortization of DKK 57.1 million, the results were within the arm’s length range. The goodwill being amortized in Pharma Distributor A A/S had been determined under a prior acquisition of the company, and later – due to a merger with the acquiring danish company – booked in Pharma Distributor A A/S. The main question in the case was whether Pharma Distributor A A/S were entitled to disregard the goodwill amortization in the comparability analysis. The national tax court had ruled in favor of the company, but the national court reached the opposite result. Thus, the National Court found that the goodwill in question had to be regarded as an operating asset, and therefore the depreciation ... Continue to full case
France vs SA Sacla, February 2020, CAA de Lyon, Case No. 17LY04170

France vs SA Sacla, February 2020, CAA de Lyon, Case No. 17LY04170

SA Sacla, a French company trading in protective clothing and footwear, as well as small equipment, was audited for fiscal years 2007, 2008 and 2009. The French tax administration issued an assessment, considering that SA Sacla by selling brands owned by it for an amount of 90,000 euros to a Luxembourg company, Involvex, had indirectly transfered profits abroad. Due to inconclusive results of various valuations presented by the tax authorities and the taxpayer, an expert opinion was ordered by the Court on the question of whether the price of the brands sold by SA Sacla to the company Involvex had been at arm’s length. DECIDES: Article 1: Before ruling on the request of SA SACLA, an expert will carry out an assessment in order to determine whether the selling price of the brands sold by SA SACLA corresponds to their value, taking into account the ... Continue to full case

Altera asking the US Supreme Court for a judicial review of the 2019 Decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals concerning the validity of IRS regs. on CCAs

Altera has asked the US Supreme Court for a judicial review of the Decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit over the validity of Internal Revenue Service regulations  that requires related companies to share the cost of stock-based employee compensation when shifting their intangible assets abroad applying US Cost Sharing regulations. In the decision a divided panel in the Court of Appeal upheld the regulation as “permissible” and therefore entitled to deference under Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984). In the Petition Altera presents three questions: 1. Whether the Treasury Department’s regulation is arbitrary and capricious and thus invalid under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 551 et seq. 2. Whether, under SEC v. Chenery Corp., 332 U.S. 194 (1947), the regulation may be upheld on a rationale the agency never advanced during rulemaking ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs Engine branch, January 2020, Tax Tribunal, Case No SKM2020.30.LSR

Denmark vs Engine branch, January 2020, Tax Tribunal, Case No SKM2020.30.LSR

The main activity in a Danish branch of a German group was development, licensing and services related to engines that were being produced by external licensees. Under a restructuring of the group, it was decided that royalty income for a particular engine type previously received by the Danish branch should be transferred to the German company. The Danish branch received a compensation corresponding to the net earnings for a two-year notice period. The tax administration increased the taxable income of the branch claiming that the branch had made valuable contributions to the development of the type of engine in question and thereby obtained co-ownership. The Tax Tribunal found that valuable intangible assets had been transferred, The decision was based on prior contractual arrangements and conduct of the parties.  Click here for translation SKM 2020-30 ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs Adecco A/S, Oct 2019, High Court, Case No SKM2019.537.OLR

Denmark vs Adecco A/S, Oct 2019, High Court, Case No SKM2019.537.OLR

The question in this case was whether royalty payments from a loss making Danish subsidiary Adecco A/S (H1 A/S in the decision) to its Swiss parent company Adecco SA (G1 SA in the decision – an international provider of temporary and permanent employment services active throughout the entire range of sectors in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Asia – for use of trademarks and trade names, knowhow, international network intangibles, and business concept were deductible expenses for tax purposes or not. In  2013, the Danish tax authorities (SKAT) had amended Adecco A/S’s taxable income for the years 2006-2009 by a total of DKK 82 million. “Section 2 of the Tax Assessment Act. Paragraph 1 states that, when calculating the taxable income, group affiliates must apply prices and terms for commercial or economic transactions in accordance with what could have been agreed if the transactions ... Continue to full case

Israel vs Broadcom, Aug 2019, Israeli Supreme Court, Case No 2454/19

In 2012 Broadcom Corporation acquired all the shares of Broadlight Inc, another US corporation which owned a subsidiary in Israel, for around $200 million. Three months later, the subsidiary in Israel sold its IP to a group company for $59.5m and then an agreement was entered according to which the subsidiary would supply R&D, marketing and support services to the other group companies for a cost plus fee. Based on these facts the Israeli tax Authorities issued an assessment equivalent to $168.5m. The tax authorities found that the full value of the company in Israel had been transferred. The tax assessment was brought to court where Broadcom claimed that the tax authorities had re-characterised the transaction and that the onus of proof was on the tax authorities to justify the value of $168.5m. First the District Court held that all the values in the Israeli ... Continue to full case
US vs Amazon, August 2019, US Court of Appeal Ninth Circut, Case No. 17-72922

US vs Amazon, August 2019, US Court of Appeal Ninth Circut, Case No. 17-72922

In the course of restructuring its European businesses in a way that would shift a substantial amount of income from U.S.-based entities to the European subsidiaries, appellee Amazon.com, Inc. entered into a cost sharing arrangement in which a holding company for the European subsidiaries made a “buy-in” payment for Amazon’s assets that met the regulatory definition of an “intangible.” See 26 U.S.C. § 482. Tax regulations required that the buy-in payment reflect the fair market value of Amazon’s pre-existing intangibles. After the Commissioner of Internal Revenue concluded that the buy-in payment had not been determined at arm’s length in accordance with the transfer pricing regulations, the Internal Revenue Service performed its own calculation, and Amazon filed a petition in the Tax Court challenging that valuation. At issue is the correct method for valuing the preexisting intangibles under the then-applicable transfer pricing regulations. The Commissioner sought ... Continue to full case
Netherlands vs Crop Tax Advisors, June 2019, Court of the Northern Netherlands, Case No 200.192.332/01

Netherlands vs Crop Tax Advisors, June 2019, Court of the Northern Netherlands, Case No 200.192.332/01

The question at issue was whether a tax adviser at Crop BV had acted in accordance with the requirements of a reasonably competent and reasonably acting adviser when advising on the so-called royalty routing and its implementation and when giving advice on trading. Click here for translation NL royalty routing1 ... Continue to full case
Perrigo facing billion dollar tax assessments in both Ireland and the US

Perrigo facing billion dollar tax assessments in both Ireland and the US

In July 2013 the Irish pharma company Elan was acquired by the US based Perrigo group for $8.6 billion (£5.6 billion). Ireland’s corporation tax rate was one of the main attractions for Perrigo and the deal was said to give Perrigo substantial tax savings due to a corporate tax inversion. The Irish 12.5 % corporate tax rate compared US rate of 30 % was further augmented by the trading losses built up over a number of years by Elan in its business as a drug development group. That meant that even with a $3.25 billion transaction like Elan’s sale of the rights to the multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri the company would still not have to pay any tax. The low-tax scenario envisioned by Perrigo did not last for long. First Perrigo was issued a $1.9 billion tax bill (excluding interest and penalties) by the Irish tax ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs H Group, April 2019, Tax Tribunal, Case No. SKM2019.207

Denmark vs H Group, April 2019, Tax Tribunal, Case No. SKM2019.207

Intangibles had been transferred from a Danish subsidiary to a US parent under a written agreement. According to the agreement the Danish subsidiary – which had developed and used it’s own intangibles – would now have to pay royalties for the use of trademarks, know-how and patents owned by the US parent. The tax authorities had issued an assesment on the grounds that the majority of the Danish company’s intangibles had been transferred to the US parent. In the assesment the value of the intangibles had been calculated based on the price paid when the US group acquired the shares in the Danish company. H Group argued that the transferred intangibles no longer carried any value and that the Danish company now used intangibles owned by the US group. The Tax Tribunal found that tax authorities had been entitled to make an assessment as the transaction ... Continue to full case
Norway vs Normet Norway AS, March 2019, Borgarting Lagmannsrett, Case No 2017-202539

Norway vs Normet Norway AS, March 2019, Borgarting Lagmannsrett, Case No 2017-202539

In January 2013 the Swiss company Normet International Ltd acquired all the shares in the Norwegian company Dynamic Rock Support AS (now Normet Norway AS) for a price of NOK 78 million. In February 2013 all intangibles in Dynamic Rock Support AS was transfered to Normet International Ltd for a total sum of NOK 3.666.140. The Norwegian tax authorities issued an assessment where the arm’s length value of the intangibles was set at NOK 58.2 million. The Court of Appeal upheld the tax assessment issued by the tax authorities and rejected the appeal. Click here for translation Norway vs Normet 190319 ... Continue to full case
Norway vs Cytec, March 2019, Borgarting Lagmannsrett, Case No 2017-90184

Norway vs Cytec, March 2019, Borgarting Lagmannsrett, Case No 2017-90184

The question in the case was whether Cytec Norway KS (now Allnex Norway A/S) had paid an arm’s length price for an intra-group transfer of intangible assets in 2010. Cytec Norway KS had set the price for the accquired intangibles at NOK 210 million and calculated tax depreciations on that basis. The Norwegian tax authorities found that no intangibles had actually been transferred. The tax Appeals Committee determined that intangibles had been transferred but only at a total value of NOK 45 million. The Court of appeal upheld the dicision of the Tax Appeals Committee, where the price for tax purposes was estimated at NOK 44.9 million. Click here for translation Norway vs Cytec 19 March 2019, Borgarting Lagmannsrett Case No 2017-90184 ... Continue to full case
Blizzard Gaming involved in major Tranfer Pricing disputes

Blizzard Gaming involved in major Tranfer Pricing disputes

US Gaming Giant, Activision Blizzard Inc. – known for games such as World of Warcraft and Diablo – is and has been involved in several major transfer pricing disputes – with the US, French, UK, and Swedish tax authorities. In a 10Q filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission from November 2018 the following information was provided by the company on pending tax cases. “Activision Blizzard’s 2009 through 2016 tax years remain open to examination by certain major taxing jurisdictions to which we are subject. During February 2018, the Company was notified by the IRS that its tax returns for 2012 through 2016 tax years will be subject to examination. In September 2018, the IRS concluded its examination of our 2009 through 2011 tax years. The Company also has several state and non-U.S. audits pending, including the French audit discussed below. In addition, as ... Continue to full case
Luxembourg vs Lux SARL, December 2018, Administrative Court, Case No 40455

Luxembourg vs Lux SARL, December 2018, Administrative Court, Case No 40455

In a case on hidden distribution of profits, the Luxembourg tax authorities stated the following on the issue of valuation methods for intangible assets (a patent): “…the evaluation of an intellectual property right is a rather complex subject; that evaluation reports from “independent” experts in this field are often rather subjective; whereas, therefore, reference should be made to a neutral and recognized body for the evaluation of patents, in this case WIPO, which proposes three different methods of valuation, including (a) the cost method, (b) the revenue method, as well as (c) the market method; that the first method of evaluation is to be dismissed from the outset in view of the absence of research and development expenses reported by the Claimant; that the second method is based on the future revenues of the patent invention; therefore, there must be a large enough amount of data to predict future revenues over ... Continue to full case
Tokyo District Court, judgment of November 24 2017

Tokyo District Court, judgment of November 24 2017

A Japanese company had entered into a series of controlled transactions with foreing group companies granting services and licences to use intangibles – know-how related to manufacturing and sales, training, and provided support by sending over technical experts. The company had used a CUP method to price these transactions based on select “internal comparables”. Tax authorities disagreed with the company and found that the residual profit split method should be applied to price the transactions. The court found the transactions should be aggregated and that the price should be determined for the full packaged deal – not separately for each transaction. The foreign related-party transactions were compared – as a whole – to the comparable transactions selected by the company and the court found that the product lines, how to use them and frequency of dispatching employees to support the foreing group company were not ... Continue to full case

Israel vs Hewlett-Packard, July 2017, Settled in International Arbitration

Hewlett-Packard pays NIS 1.6 billion ($450 million) in tax on its 2006 acquisition of the intellectual property of Israel company Mercury Interactive, in addition to the NIS 1 billion already paid to the Israel Tax Authority. The acquisition at issue took place in two stages. First the shares in Mercury Interactive were acquired by Hewlett-Packard for $4.5 billion in 2006. Then in 2009 Mercury Interactive’s intellectual property was transferred to Hewlett-Packard for a substantially lower price of $963 million. The Tax Authority held that the sales of the intellectual property should be taxed at the full value of $4.5 billion The case was settled in international arbitration, which ended with an additional tax payment of NIS 1.6 billion by Hewlett-Packard ... Continue to full case
France vs. Havas, July 2017, CE, No 400644

France vs. Havas, July 2017, CE, No 400644

The French Court considers that in the event of a transfer of shares, the goodwill recognized at the acquisition of the shares shall no longer be included in the balance sheet of the parent company. (more…) ... Continue to full case
Israel vs. Gteko Ltd (Microsoft), June 2017, District Court

Israel vs. Gteko Ltd (Microsoft), June 2017, District Court

In November 2006 Microsoft Corp. purchased 100% of the shares of Gteko Ltd. (IT Support technology), for USD 90 million. The purchase was made with the intention of integrating Gteko’s technology into Microsoft’s own products. Following this purchase of Gteko Ltd., the employees were transferred to the local Microsoft subsidiary and a few months later another agreement was entered transferring Gteko’s intellectual property/intangibles to Microsoft. This transfer was priced at USD 26 million based on the purchase price allocation (PPA). The tax authorities of Israel found that the price of 26 mio USD used in the transaction was not at arm’s length. It was further argued, that the transaction was not only a transfer of some intangibles but rather a transfer of all assets owned by Gteko as a going concern to Microsoft Corp. The arm’s length price for the transfer was set at USD 80 million. The District Court agreed with the assessment and ... Continue to full case