Licensing is a common strategy for commercialising intellectual property (IP), including registered and unregistered designs.
IP can be licensed-out or licensed-in. You can licence-out your design to someone else in return for a fee, by giving them permission to use your designs on agreed terms and conditions.
Registering a design licence
You or the licensee (ie the person receiving the licence) should register the licence, or cancellation of a licence, with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). The registration is free of charge.
The IPO will keep a record of it in the register of designs. You will have to fill in and send the relevant registered design forms to the IPO to update the register. Read more about licensing your intellectual property.
Licensing other people's designs
If you want to license-in a design belonging to someone else, you should first identify the owner. Search for registered design information. The IPO can also supply either certified or uncertified copies of designs or design applications.
If the owner decides to give you a licence to use their designs, the licence agreement should clearly specify:
- when and how you can use the design
- what licence fees and royalties you will have to pay as a result of this usage
In the last five years of any unregistered design right, you must give a 'licence of right' to anybody who asks. You can ask IPO to help if you can't reach an agreement on the terms of the licence.
The design's owner may also agree to sell you their design rights. This is referred to as 'assignment'. See more on how to buy, sell or transfer your design rights.