Sub-licensing intellectual property rights
Produced in partnership with Jessica Stretch

The following IP practice note produced in partnership with Jessica Stretch provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Sub-licensing intellectual property rights
  • Right to sub-license—statutory position
  • Patents
  • Trade marks
  • Copyright and designs
  • Why sub-license IP rights?
  • Advantages
  • Disadvantages
  • Sub-licensing—key terms and considerations
  • Licensor approval to appointment of sub-licensee
  • More...

Sub-licensing intellectual property rights

An intellectual property (IP) owner may choose to license its IP to a third party. This can be an effective route to generating revenue while maintaining ownership of valuable rights. The terms upon which the IP owner (licensor) grants rights to a licensee often include a clause determining if the licensee may, in turn, grant a sub-licence of the IP right(s) to a third party.

This Practice Note covers:

  1. Right to sub-license—statutory position for patents, trade marks, copyright and designs

  2. Why sub-license IP rights? Advantages and disadvantages

  3. Sub-licensing—key terms and considerations

  4. Checklist—key questions for drafting

For an introduction to IP licensing in general, see Practice Note: Exploiting intellectual property rights and Q&A: What are the key practical issues for a business to consider when exploiting its intellectual property rights? For more in-depth Practice Notes on licensing individual IP rights please see the relevant IP section below.

A note on terminology: in this Practice Note, references to the ‘head licence’ refer to the initial licence agreement between the licensor and licensee. References to the ‘sub-licence’ refer to the agreement between the licensee to the head licence and a sub-licensee. When drafting a sub-licence agreement, the licensee to the head-licence will usually be described as the licensor (as it becomes the party granting rights). However, in order to avoid confusion, the terms ‘licensee’ and ‘sub-licensee’ are

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