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IP Readings & Articles

Intellectual Property Licensing

Licensing or Grant License means to give permission and refers to that permission as well as to the document memorializing that permission. License may be granted by a party ("licensor") to another party ("licensee") as an element of an agreement between those parties. A shorthand definition of a license is "an authorization (by the licensor) to use the licensed material (by the licensee)."

A licensor may grant License under intellectual property laws to authorize a use (i.e. such as copying software or using a (patented) invention) to a licensee, sparing the licensee from a claim of infringement brought by the licensor.

A license under intellectual property commonly has several component parts beyond the grant itself, including a term, territory, renewal provisions, and other limitations deemed vital to the licensor.


A license may stipulate what territory the rights pertain to. For example, a license with a territory limitation to a specific country would not permit a licensee any protection from actions for use in another country.


Many licenses are valid for a particular length of time. This protects the licensor should the value of the license increase, or market conditions change. It also preserves enforceability by ensuring that no license extends beyond the term of IP ownership


Known as Software License Agreement or Mass Distribution Software License is used by individuals on personal computers under license from the developer of that software. Such license is typically included in a more extensive end-user license agreement (EULA) entered into upon the installation of that software on a computer.

Under a typical end-user license agreement, the user may install the software on a limited number of computers.


A licensor may grant permission to a licensee to distribute products under a trademark. With such a license, the licensee may use the trademark without fear of a claim of trademark infringement by the licensor.


A licensor may grant a permission to a licensee to copy and distribute copyrighted works such as "art" (e.g. Thomas Kincaid's painting "Dawn in Los Gatos") and characters (e.g. Mickey Mouse). With such license, a licensee need not fear a claim of copyright infringement brought by the copyright owner.

Artistic license is, however, not related to the aforementioned license. It is a euphemism that denotes approaches in art works where dramatic effect is achieved at the expense of factual accuracy.