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Careful licensing of intellectual property

News and Notes Focused on the 3 Public Faces of IP Law

  • Brand Image Protection - Trademark Law
  • Visual Image Protection - Copyright Law
  • Personal Image Protection - Right of Publicity Law

The Image Protection Law blog has been created in order to share stories and information on the legal aspects of: 1) the marketplace reputation of a company or product captured in its trademark, 2) published or publicly-displayed artwork, photography, and any created visual design, and 3) use of a person's photograph or likeness for product promotion or other commercial purposes.

The "IP3" share at least one thing in common: Image is everything. In these posts let's look at what that means in the realm of intellectual property in the news, but let's also be prepared to explore if there's something more beyond "everything." Don't forget, the intellectual in "intellectual property" doesn't mean smart or brainy, although by nature true creators often are. The word is used to refer to any creation, i.e., a "product of the mind." While this blog will be regularly updated, you are encouraged to share your thoughts on these posts.

At our law firm, we advise and represent clients in a wide range of issues regarding intellectual property licensing. In such a license, the owner of intellectual property grants to another person or company the right to use the intellectual property like a trademark, copyright or right of publicity.

Examples of common license subjects include:

  • Technology rights
  • Publishing rights to images, photos, artwork, written materials and more
  • Entertainment licenses such as to musical or theatrical works
  • Trademark licenses such as to brands and logos
  • Merchandising agreements

Some basic intellectual property licensing terms:

  • The owner of intellectual property granting the license that gives permission to use its intellectual property is the "licensor," while the party obtaining the right to utilize the intellectual property is the "licensee."
  • A license is "outbound" to the owner granting the right to another party to use its intellectual property and "inbound" to the party receiving the right.
  • A license to intellectual property may be "exclusive," meaning the licensee is the only party allowed to use it or "nonexclusive" if the owner retains the right to license it to third parties also. Of course, exclusive use is likely to be more expensive to the licensee than a nonexclusive right.
  • In a "cross license," two or more parties agree to mutually share their intellectual property with each other.

Working with an experienced attorney, it is important that a party to a potential intellectual property license carefully think through its goals and concerns in the contemplated business arrangement. Then, with legal counsel, negotiations can proceed and the terms of the license carefully drafted, in enough detail as required to address all issues that could come up between the parties throughout the licensing relationship. In future blogs, we will talk about some of the specific issues that should receive attention.

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