A licence is a legal agreement whereby the owner of intellectual property grants specific rights to another party allowing use of the intellectual property, whether that be through manufacturing it or selling it or further developing it. In return the licensee remunerates the University in the form of royalties, a portion of which will be paid to the academic.
The benefit of licensing is that it provides opportunities to develop outputs that can be difficult to create in a University setting. Universities create new ideas which have the potential to revolutionise a particular area of technology or manufacturing but may not be experts in embedding a technology into a manufacturing supply chain, or in marketing the resultant technology to customers. Licensing allows the University to ‘sell’ the novel idea or invention to a licensee who can convert it into a practical application. The potentially ongoing relationship which can develop also allows future developments to become realised, and for both parties to share in commercial success.
Licences can be granted on an exclusive basis (to one partner only), or on a non-exclusive basis to many partners. They can be limited to particular applications of the technology, or they can be limited geographically.
Licences can be granted on different types of intellectual property but predominantly involve either patents or copyright. In all instances the negotiations and contractual arrangements must be handled by the University’s Research and Knowledge Exchange Contracts Team and the Commercialisation Team; academics are not authorised to sign licensing contracts according to University policies.