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.

Sole 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.

Exclusive licence

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.

Non-exclusive licence

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 because of their similar names, but it is important to make sure that you are aware of them and know the differences between them. If you agree to the wrong type of licensing for your situation, you may unintentionally give up your rights to lawfully use your own IP or licence it to someone else.

When licensing intellectual property in Australia, it’s also important to be aware that any licence type can be restricted to a particular territory, field of use or period of time.

If in doubt, contact our Technology Team to learn more about protecting and correctly licensing your intellectual property.

Need advice about licensing your intellectual property? Contact the experts at Rouse Lawyers today.