Licensing Your Intellectual Property
If you have created intellectual property (IP), knowledge about correct licensing practices is crucial to prevent other people from copying your ideas unlawfully.
By licensing your intellectual property to someone else, in accordance with intellectual property law in Australia, you can control how they use your ideas.
Categories of IP licence
There are three categories of IP licence. These determine who can use your intellectual property and how it can be used:
• a sole licence
• an exclusive licence
• a non-exclusive licence.
There is no statutory (written law) definition of each type of licence. The definitions of each licence are based on interpretations of past issues and, because of this, are determined on a case-by-case basis.
It is important to know what each licence involves, in order to apply the correct one to your situation. Below are the generally accepted definitions and usages of each licence.
Generally, a sole licence allows the creator of the IP (you) and whomever you give this licence to to be the only people allowed to use that IP. That means, you are not allowed to let anyone else use that specific IP.
Generally, an exclusive licence means that whomever you give the licence to will be the only person allowed to use your IP. That means even you, the creator of the IP, may not be allowed to use the IP.
If a third party infringes the IP while you have exclusively licensed the IP to someone else, the person with the exclusive licence is allowed to start court proceedings without your permission.
Generally, a non-exclusive licence allows the creator of the IP (you) to licence your IP to an unlimited number of third parties and to still have the right to use your own IP.
Licensing is complex - know your rights
IP licence types can be confusing ...