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Intellectual Property: Assignment & Licensing


Intellectual Property Is Valuable!

Intellectual property can be just as valuable as—or even more valuable than—tangible property. Many companies make money exclusively through marketing products based on intellectual property rights. That’s why it is so important to protect your intellectual property through patents, trademarks, copyrights, and other legal devices that keep your intellectual property safe.

However, once you have secured your intellectual property rights, it is sometimes more convenient or valuable to let someone else use them in exchange for a fee, which is why intellectual property agreements and intellectual property contracts exist. These documents are complex agreements that determine the manner in which third parties can use your intellectual property. Intellectual property agreements require careful negotiation, and owners of intellectual property should conduct these negotiations with the support of an experienced intellectual property lawyer. Allied Legal’s lawyers can assist in this regard.

Assignment of Intellectual Property 

Broadly, under an intellectual property assignment agreement, you permanently transfer some or all IP rights to the assignee in exchange for a specified sum.  You sell the rights to a third party the same way that you could sell physical property for a permanent transfer. Generally, you relinquish all control, involvement, and claim on the intellectual property rights transferred.

Intellectual Property Licensing

Under an intellectual property licensing agreement (also known as an intellectual property license or an intellectual property license agreement), you retain ownership of your intellectual property, but you give another party permission to use some or all of your intellectual property rights for a specific amount of time for a fee or royalty. These intellectual property contracts typically specify termination dates and procedures.

There are several types of intellectual property licenses embodied in a typical intellectual property agreement. Licenses can be exclusive or non-exclusive:

  • Exclusive: You agree not to grant any other licenses of the invention and rights concerned, as well as not to use the technology yourself.
  • Non-Exclusive: You agree to give the licensee certain rights, but you also reserve the right to grant licenses of the invention and rights concerned to third parties or to use them yourself.

Assignment Vs. Licensing 

Which is better, an intellectual property assignment agreement or an intellectual property license? The reality is that there are pros and cons to each choice, depending on your needs and interests. Most of the time, IP holders want to maintain control of their IP, and they choose intellectual property licensing. This is advantageous because you can determine the manner in which your IP is used. Also, intellectual property licensing allows you to produce a steady income from your IP over a particular time period and possibly confer the same rights to multiple users.

Intellectual property assignment agreements can also have its advantages, however. If you assign intellectual property to a third party, you no longer have any responsibility towards the product. That means you cannot generally be sued for problems relating to your IP and you are not responsible for any maintenance fees. Intellectual property assignment is generally more appropriate when you are selling your business or leaving a field entirely.

Need Help? Contact us

Give us a call on 03 8638 0888 or email us at hello@alliedlegal.com.au to enquire about our expertise in the intellectual property space.  We regularly assist startups with their legal needs and would value the opportunity to work with you.    

Want to learn more about intellectual property?  Check out: It’s My Startup! But Who Owns the Intellectual Property?

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