Patent Licensing Database

If a patent licensing database exists, you know that it is a popular idea. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to license a patent. The process of producing your invention can be full of stressful decisions, much like when you decided to get a patent. The first decision is whether to manufacture your invention yourself or to license your patent rights to a third party. Here are some things to consider when deciding between manufacturing and licensing:

  • More up-front financing is needed to manufacture your invention yourself
  • Licensing means that someone else has control over your invention for a period of time
  • If you manufacture the invention yourself, you will get all of the profits
  • If you license your invention, you receive structured payments that may be significantly less than the profits

Finding a Reputable Manufacturer

After careful consideration, you may decide to license your invention to a third party. Read this article about licensing your invention. It’s then that you need to start shopping for manufacturers who possess strong distribution skills.

There are several ways to find reputable manufacturers. One popular way is to do an online search for products that are similar or are related to your invention. These manufacturers can also be found through trade shows, stores, or even trade publications for similar products. The United States Patent and Trademark Office(USPTO) will charge you a fee to publish a notice that your patent is available for licensing agreements. They do this in their official gazette.

Intellectual Property Attorneys

Once you have found a manufacturer who meets your specifications, it’s time to go get the next thing on your shopping list: an intellectual property attorney. Sometimes these attorneys are called patent lawyers. An experienced intellectual property attorney should draft your licensing agreement and negotiate the terms of it for you. In general, a licensing agreement spells out any upfront payments, how much royalties will be paid, when royalties will be paid, and infringement possibilities.

Your lawyer will help you determine whether to grant exclusive or non-exclusive licenses. Non-exclusive licenses are granted to more than one entity. Exclusive licenses allow the licensor to still own the patent. One interesting aspect of an exclusive license is that the licensee is given the right to sue for infringement. Often, an exclusive patent license is only good for a limited amount of time. A qualified patent attorney can help you navigate all of these issues and reduce the likelihood that you have unintended consequences in the long term.

Research

Confidentiality is tricky in patent licensing deals. So it can be difficult to determine if you are getting a good deal or not. Attorneys with experience may have a general idea (because they’ve worked with many patent holders), but you may want to do some research on your own.

One source of information are services that cater to patent license grantors and holders. Sometimes, the information is found in the public domain through press releases and public disclosure forms. While many times these notices have some information about the royalties, they don’t necessarily give enough information about the patent for you to determine if the invention is similar to yours or not. Patent numbers are rarely reported in this way. The exception is when there are litigation settlements, judgements or similarly court involved proceedings.

Confidentiality is a big issue in patent ownership. Recently, some in Congress have sought to require increased transparency around who actually owns a patent. Recent bills would require increased visibility into patent ownership. This may require additional licensing agreement disclosures. If any of these bills are passed into law, it’s unlikely that it would require the granular level disclosure individual patent information that it’s aiming at.

Complex Licensing

Many licensing deals are designed so that patents are not explicitly licensed. Even some parties to the license don’t know what has been licensed. There are database vendors who have taken the time to integrate the USPTO’s Assignment Historical Database into their offerings, which is helpful in the search area. However, these vendors have failed to capture with 100 percent accuracy all of the licenses, assignments, and all courts. There are many reputable vendors who can help with your search. A quick Google search will bring many of them up.

If you need help with a patent or patent licensing, 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, Stripe, and Twilio.