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:: Licensing of IP

Intellectual property rights (IPRs), like any other property, can be sold or given away or licensed.

In terms of the commercialisation, or making money from IP, licensing is by far the simplest, easiest and quickest route.

Once the IP has been adequately protected e.g. by the authentication of copyright, or the granting of a patent or trademark, the processes for the creation of licenses are relatively straightforward. However, the evaluation of commercial viability and estimation of potential revenue streams are far less so.

In the international context, a formal licensing agreement is possible only if the intellectual property right you wish to license is also protected in the other country or countries of interest to you. If your intellectual property is not protected in such other country or countries then you would not be able to license it, and you would have no legal right to put any restriction on its use by anyone else there.

In 2010 global trade in IP licences alone was worth more than £600 billion a year: five per cent of world trade and rising. So, there is no doubt, that given the right IP and its protection, the potential to make money from IP licensing is huge.

Fortunately, IP law and commercial licensing contracts are relatively mature and well-proven in most of the large world economies. That is not to say significant infringements and disputes do not arise, they do, and relatively expensively.

:: Intellectual Property

The UK has a rich history of, and reputation for, creativity and bright ideas based upon, invention and innovation.

So what exactly is Intellectual Property (IP)? IP refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce.

IP is divided into two categories: Industrial property, which includes inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs, and geographic indications of source; and Copyright, which includes literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and architectural designs. Rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of recordings, and those of broadcasters in their radio and television programme.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are the rights given to persons over the creations of their minds. They usually give the creator an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period of time.

Independent sources of IP related information and services include:

:: Building an IP Based Business

The majority of new businesses worldwide are built based upon ideas, existing or new, rather than protected intellectual property. This makes it much easier for competitors to copy the business model, reduces the Management's ability to create value in a business and increases the risks.

Businesses owning protected IP typically grow faster, have more ambitious goals, and have lower stagnation and failure rates.

If your protected IP based product or service is commercially viable, then you may decide to build a new business or expand an existing one, based on the forecast revenues.

It is much harder and much higher risk to build a new business from scratch than to sell or licence the rights to a third party. It also typically requires much more investment, both in terms of money and personal commitment.

Franchising can lend itself very well to the rapid commercialisation of IP, essentially doing much more with less more quickly, whilst simultaneously making the business model more manageable and easier to optimise.

In addition to owning protected IP which exists, by its very nature in the public domain, it can be equally important to develop 'knowledge and know-how' which is retained and kept secret for competitive advantage.