Owning and protecting a set of intellectual property (IP) rights is one thing but harnessing them for commercial gain is another thing entirely. There are two main options for exploiting your intellectual property in this way: you can sell your rights (known as “assigning”), whereby you transfer ownership for payment, or you can license them (known as “licensing”), where you retain ownership but provide others with the right to use the IP in exchange for payment.
Either option can provide a substantial source of income for an individual or business, so they’re valuable options that are well worth exploring, especially if your IP rights are particularly in-demand. In this post, we’ll explore the idea of exploiting intellectual property through assigning and licensing.
There are several types of intellectual property rights:
All of the above rights are tangible assets that can be used in various transactions.
Before you can commercialise your intellectual property rights, it’s important to conduct an IP audit and check who owns the IP within a business. Ideally, the entity itself would hold all of the IP, but there could be circumstances where IP has not properly been transferred or managed and is owned by different individuals. For example, if the business has instructed a consultant, freelancer or agency to complete work on their behalf.
Auditing can be complex and time-consuming, so we recommend engaging an experienced professional to ensure its conducted efficiently and properly. Get in touch with our team if you need help.
An assignment is effectively a ‘sale’ of intellectual property rights from the owner to the purchaser. Generally, this means that the original owner loses all right to use and exploit the IP and the new owner takes on these rights instead. This type of transfer is almost always irrevocable.
An assignment usually needs some form of consideration (monetary payment), so depending on the assignment’s purpose and the IP’s value, this can be as little as £1 or as lucrative as the parties see fit.
A licence agreement, on the other hand, means that the intellectual property ownership remains the same, but the licensee is allowed to use the IP under the terms of the licence. Licences are usually limited by several elements, including exclusivity, type of use, territory and period. The owner may be able to grant a licence of the same IP rights to other parties, or they might decide that only the licensee has the benefit of the rights.
While a licence can be granted for a lump sum, it’s often the case that revenue is made by way of royalties or milestone payments.
Briffa, of course, can assist with any queries regarding exploiting your intellectual property. To book a free consultation with one of our specialist lawyers, contact us at email@example.com.
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