Licenses – Introduction

One of the most common ways an inventor can take advantage of their patent is through licensing. A license gives another rights to make, use or sell an invention. However, the patent holder retains ownership of the patent. A license is a bit like a renting a piece of real property. The owner still owns it, but lets another use it, usually for a profit. When it’s a real property license, the payment is called “rent”. If it’s a patent that’s being licensed, the property is called a “royalty”.

Licenses allow the inventor to share in the profits of the manufacturer or producer of the invention. Often, the license will be based on the number of units sold by the producer. This arrangement is advantageous for the producer, since the producer only pays the licensor based on the producer’s sales. 

The license can take many different forms and can be tailored to the needs of the parties to the transaction. For example, the license can be exclusive or non-exclusive to the party receiving the license. If the license is exclusive, then only the party receiving the license can make, user or sell the invention, and nobody else. If the license is non-exclusive, then the owner of the patent can license it many different parties.

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