Commercialising your Intellectual Property – Licensing Options for your Copyright

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Are your literary or musical works getting republished or reproduced? Do you need to commercialise your intellectual property? How can you keep your original works safe?

Licensing your Copyright

Choosing the right method of intellectual property commercialisation can often be tricky to navigate, and will wholly depend on a copyright owner’s preference about control and continual ownership. Granting a copyright licence is one of two options to commercial copyright (the other being to grant an assignment).

Unlike assignments, copyright licences still allow the copyright owner to retain some form of control over the intellectual property rights throughout the licence. Assignments on the other hand relinquish ownership.

When granting a copyright licence, a copyright owner will generally have two options:

  • Grant a exclusive licence; or
  • Grant a non-exclusive licence.

Copyright Exclusive Licences

An “exclusive licence” is an agreement whereby a copyright owner entitles a licensee to use the owner’s copyright to the exclusion of all others (including the copyright owner him or herself). Unlike an assignment, however, the licence does not transfer ownership of the copyright to the licensee. That is, under an exclusive licence agreement the right of exploitation may be limited to particular time frames, geographical locations and may only be used for specific purposes. Additionally, ownership ultimately remains with the original owner.

Rights Under a Copyright Exclusive Licence

Under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) licensees under an exclusive licence agreement have greater rights than licensees under a non-exclusive licence Agreement. This includes the opportunity to sue a third party for copyright infringement (along with the owner who also retains this right against a third party). In Australia, a licensee of an exclusive license can also sue a copyright owner for copyright infringement should the copyright owner breach the terms of the exclusive licence.

This arrangement is more suitable for licensees who wish to pay for exclusive exploitation of the copyright of the owner, and do not wish to share it with others.

Non-Exclusive Licences

Under a “non-exclusive licence” a copyright owner does not have to limit the use of the copyright to one person. That is, under this type of arrangement, the copyright owner can extend the licence to multiple parties at one time. This can be a more effective method of commercialisation of a copyright owner’s intellectual property.

Non-exclusive licence arrangements are more suitable to copyright owners who wish to retain control over the commercialization of their products and copyright. In this arrangement, distinguishable from the exclusive licence, the copyright owner can continue to use his or her copyright concurrently to use by the licensee.

If you need assistance in determining the appropriate licence for your copyright, please do not hesitate to contact us.

For more information on how to commercialise your intellectual property please contact our Intellectual Property team on (07) 3252 0011.

This article was written by Eduardo Cruz (Associate).