Exclusive licences – how can they help?


Most people who own an intellectual property (IP) right do so in the hope of making money out of it. However, this is not always possible on their own.

For example, the original owner of the copyright in a book is usually the author, but they are rarely able to print, distribute and market their work on their own. Similarly, many patent-holders cannot manufacture their inventions without assistance.


Licensing allows the owner of an IP right to permit someone else to exercise that right without the owner completely giving it up.

In the examples above, an author may license a publisher to print, market and distribute their book for a certain amount of time, or until a certain number of sales have been made. The owner of a patent may license their invention to be used by a manufacturer for a certain amount of time, provided they are paid a fee.

Exclusive licences

An exclusive licence takes this one step further. In addition to granting a third party permission to exercise a right over their work, the original rightsholder agrees not to issue the licence to anyone else.

This is a far more valuable licence, since it guarantees a form of monopoly on the market and the original rightsholder will expect their compensation to reflect this.

Drafting licences

Licences must be drafted very carefully to ensure that they meet the needs and expectations of both parties.

If you expect to be granted an exclusive licence, you should always employ your own legal representative to review and ideally draft it. This will avoid a situation in which you encounter unexpected competition in the marketplace, due to the licence not being completely exclusive to you.

Similarly, if you intend to grant an exclusive licence, you should always make sure you understand exactly what rights you are giving up and how long for.

You can learn more about this subject by visiting our pages on intellectual property law. If, however, you need a licence drafted, or need to understand the effect of a licence that already exists, you should consider instructing a solicitor.

Caven can put you in touch with a local specialist intellectual property solicitor free of charge. Please call us on 08001 221 2299 or complete the web-form above and one of our trained advisors will be happy to refer you to an appropriate specialist.

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