Updated July 30, 2020: 

A brand licensing agreement is used when one individual or company wants to use the invention of another that is protected under a trademark, patent, or another legal measure.

Brand Licensing: Introduction

This type of agreement includes all the details of how the two individuals or companies will work together on a specific business venture. Most brand licensing agreements include a licensee or the individual or company that is buying the rights to license a product or brand, as well as a licensor, or the owner of the licensed product or brand. The person who is buying the rights will be responsible to pay a portion or percentage of each sale of the product in the agreement back to the person who owns the licensor.

Brand licenses are agreements that fall under legal protection, allowing a third party to lease a name, likeness, or brand from another business entity or individual. This agreement is a contract that permits the use of a product or idea that is protected under U.S. trademark laws.

Benefits of Licensing Your Brand

One of the key benefits of entering into a licensing agreement is to reach a wider audience, which can help you grow your company's brand. When you are able to work directly with another company, you have access to their audience and customers. Making the decision to license your brand or product makes it easier to:

  • Expand your brand on a strategic level.
  • Reach a new geographic location.
  • Reach a different age demographic.
  • Reach another group of customers.

Another benefit is diversifying your revenue source and generating opportunities for incremental revenue. As a licensor, you will generally receive some type of royalty payment in exchange for every product that the licensee sells. Although a royalty deal isn't going to transform your business and take the revenue from several thousand to several million dollars, this type of constant income creates diversity in the way your company can receive money, adding incremental value.

Retailers have opportunities to be on both sides of licensing as well. You can choose to license your product or brand to another company, or you could choose to become the licensee and sell the products of another individual or company. It might also make sense to lease the right to use your brand to a larger company or do a combination of both options in your business strategy.

When you agree to a licensing deal, you are granting permission to another individual or company to use your intellectual property on any of their products, including the product or company name, logo, or other details. Even small brands and products can benefit from licensing agreements. As long as the product or brand has some type of value, whether within a specific niche or on a regional level, it can be successfully licensed.

When you enter into a licensing agreement, you are creating a partnership with another company or individual. The benefit of a partnership in this sense is the ability to target and get in front of a larger audience through marketing efforts. Licensing also gives you the chance to form stronger relationships with your customers. This action gives you the chance to establish a bridge between product design, manufacturing, and the finished product.

Protection against counterfeiters is another benefit of licensing. When a product is well-known enough or the brand becomes more famous in the market, those who want to get a piece will start making similar products. By entering into a licensing agreement, you can stay in front of the counterfeiters and become more proactive about protecting the intellectual property you have spent time and money to secure. This agreement also makes it easier to maintain brand prestige since you can limit how deeply discounted the product is allowed to be, as well as protect against other potential value issues.

How to License Your Brand

The first step in licensing a product or brand is making sure you have legal protection on your intellectual property. If your logo isn't trademarked or your product isn't patented, you could end up providing free, unlimited access to the assets of your brand without receiving anything back.

Step two is going through the research process. When you plan to pursue brand licensing aggressively in order to grow your brand, you'll need a clear strategy in place. Your strategy should outline the individual or company that is ideal to become your licensee. The research and planning phase can help you make faster decisions about who to approach for potential licensing deals.

If you need help with a brand licensing agreement, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.