Releases and licensing

Take advantage of the protection intellectual property laws provide.
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Make releases and licensing agreements FAQs

Protecting your products and ideas is critical to helping you maintain their value. You can protect your business by taking advantage of the protections provided by trademarks, copyrights, licensing agreements, and more.

What is a Licensing Agreement?

A Licensing Agreement allows a licensee to produce and/or sell a product. For example, you invented a device that you own the patent for that you are allowing another company to manufacture that device for you. Most small business owners or inventors do not have the means to produce, distribute or sell their product on their own, so a Licensing Agreement can help them get the product to market. It includes agreements about quality control, how changes can be made, and how much royalties will be paid.

Exclusive vs. non-exclusive rights

Exclusive rights give you and the company you are contracting with licensing rights. Non-exclusive rights give the license owner the rights to provide rights to others.

Properties that are often licensed

  • Digital Assets
  • Copyrights
  • Patent licenses
  • Trademarks

Do I need a lawyer to make a Licensing Agreement?

You do not need a lawyer to make a Licensing Agreement; however, you may benefit from hiring one. These documents can be rather complex and often a lot is at stake making it smart to consult with a lawyer. You may also benefit from consulting with your accountant. If you are contracting with a foreign manufacturer, you may also need a competent translator.

Topics to discuss with your lawyer

  • Exclusivity and duration
  • Termination terms and infringement
  • License restrictions
  • Regional restrictions
  • Property usage, improvements and modifications
  • NDA agreements
  • Quality control and compliance
  • Export laws
  • Arbitration

Topics to discuss with your accountant

  • Net sales
  • Royalties
  • Price
  • Guaranteed payments

What kind of creative work can be copyrighted?

If you have a creative work that has value and needs to be protected, you can copyright it. Tangible creative works that can be replicated and/or have been preserved may be eligible for protection. In most cases, you cannot copyright intangible works such as a speech or idea. You also cannot copyright non-creative works such as a commonly used symbol or letter.

Creative works that may be eligible for copyright protection:

  • Written works including books or computer programs
  • Written works published online
  • Music compositions including lyrics and sound recordings
  • Movies, video or audiovisual works
  • Architectural plans
  • Graphics
  • Sculptures

You can apply for a copyright using the Copyright.gov website.