What is a Patent Royalty?

A patent royalty ensures the inventor the right to exclude others from manufacturing, utilizing, or promoting on the market or importing his or her invention; these rights could also be licensed, completely or non-exclusively, for a royalty. U.S. patents apply to the U.S. and U.S. territories and are valid for 20 years starting on the date on which the patent utility was filed. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office offers brief introductory information to patents and patent legislation.

Types of Patents

There are three forms of patents:

The most common kinds of patents are utility patents. They are granted to inventors or discoverers of processes, machines, articles of manufacturing, or compositions of matter. Design patents are granted to inventors of recent, genuine, and decorative designs for articles of assembly. Plant patents are granted to inventors or discoverers of recent types of crops.

The Bayh-Dole Act was passed by Congress in 1980, permitting universities to cash in on analysis carried out by university professionals. These royalty streams imply big cash. We curated a listing of colleges that received the top return on their analysis, based mostly on a survey from 2006 (the latest data) of 189 universities by the Affiliation of College Expertise Managers, which tracks university-originated licensing and patent revenues. In multiple instances, a number of big hits went a great distance.

How Big Are Royalties From Inventions?

Royalties from an invention are what most individuals attempt to realize with their invention concepts. A licensing settlement is a contract between an inventor and an organization. Usually, the contract provides the business the right to fabricate and promote the invention. The inventor is known as the licensor of the invention and receives a small share of every product that's sold.

Percentages range depending on many components. The primary components embody:

  • How novel the product is
  • How good the patent protection is
  • How worthwhile the product is

The typical royalty on a typical invention is 3 to 6 percent of the wholesale worth of the product offered. The wholesale worth is the value by which the producer sells the product to its buyer. Normally, the client is a retailer; however, the buyer may be a distributor to the final person. A typical retailer like Walmart and Target requires a 100 percent markup on most merchandise. If a product has a retail value worth $10, the wholesale worth could be $5.

If a producer offered the product to Walmart for $5, the inventor would make five percent of $5, or 25 cents per piece of merchandise offered. If Walmart sells two gadgets per retailer per week of its 3000 shops, the inventor would make $78,000 per year on that $10 merchandise. This represents great passive revenue from one chain of shops! Another thing to remember is that, if your product is promoting properly at Walmart, it might be offered in 1000s of different shops within the U.S. Licensing agreements might be nice for an inventor if you have the right product and the manufacturing companion.


Many inventors fail to realize that royalty share doesn't ensure a royalty revenue. Your royalty share is the agreed-upon share of the business's revenue from your invention that you'll obtain under the terms of the licensing settlement. Royalty revenue relies fully on gross sales. You may need to negotiate an excessive royalty share, but when the store makes no gross sales, you obtain no revenue. It's fairly possible for an organization to accumulate a license from you but not to make or promote any product.

Your licensing settlement ought to offer certain minimal revenue. It's possible for an inventor who accepts a particularly small royalty share to change into a lot richer than one who negotiates an excessive royalty share. The distinction is determined by the variety of models offered.

Royalty Percentages

The highest royalty you might receive is about 25 percent of the business's gross revenue from the gross sales of your invention. Gross revenue is the business's manufacturing facility access worth per unit minus the price of manufacturing and promoting, multiplied by the variety of models offered per year.

You'll be able to predict the corporate's gross revenue with accuracy if you already know:

  • The corporate's gross sales forecast on your product
  • Its proposed promoting worth

If the corporation won't or cannot inform you what these are, significant negotiation will be unlikely.

The Value of Your Invention

Most firms don't wish to provide you with anywhere close to 25 percent of their gross revenue. Corporations will be likely to undervalue your invention to scale back the royalty share payable. Many inventors likely overvalue their innovations and ask for an unrealistically excessive royalty share. If the corporate is investing closely in manufacturing and advertising assets for an invention that's unproven to be available in the market, it might be tough to justify a big royalty if your exposure to risk is small by comparison.

How specific is the product? If there are no close competitors and the company can charge a high price, you deserve a high royalty. But when competitors hold income low, your royalty share can be low. The more models offered, the less your royalty share will likely be. Revenue margins shrink as clients place larger orders and insist on decreased costs. Nevertheless, even at a decreased share, your revenue might enhance dramatically if gross sales increase.

It's best to consider gross revenue per unit and market measurement. Multiply the gross revenue per unit (which you already know) by the variety of models the corporate estimates it could possibly promote in a year (which you additionally know). Then, have a look at the scale and sustainability of the market. Will your invention promote for only some years, or for a few years? The larger the potential gross revenue per unit and the larger and more sustainable the market, the higher the worth of the invention.

Converting Gross Profit into Net Sales Price

Gross revenue is probably the best means for an inventor to calculate a practical level of payment. It's customary business practice to specify royalties as a share of the product's net revenue – that is, the manufacturing unit entry cost minus all taxes. The terminology changes but the quantities of cash don't. Changing a share of gross revenue right into a share of net gross revenue is easy when you realize that one (gross revenue) is a share of the other (net gross revenue).

For instance: 

Your figures present that the corporation will make 40 percent gross revenue on the gross sales of your product in a single year. Primarily based on your valuation of your invention, you determine that you really want 15 percent of gross revenue as your royalty.  That now becomes 15 percent of 40 percent, which is six percent of the net gross revenue – a smaller amount but the same cash as 15 percent of gross revenue.

Renegotiation of Royalties

As gross sales rise, the business's revenue margin could fall, as giant orders are conditional on a decreased unit value. It would subsequently help your cause to counsel a sliding scale of royalties primarily based on complete royalty earnings.

For instance: 7 percent of €20,000 per year of complete royalty earnings, decreasing to 5 percent between €20-50,000 and to a few percent when your complete royalty earnings exceeds €50,000 per yr. This demonstrates your willingness to be flexible to everybody's desires.

By taking a smaller share of upper gross sales, your licensee has an incentive to promote extra merchandise.

Traps to Avoid

Your royalty should apply to all gross sales, so don’t let an organization stop paying you royalties if gross sales exceed a certain amount. (A possible exception is if you settle for a royalty ceiling in trade for a considerable assured minimal royalty earnings.) Don’t comply with royalties based solely on net revenue, as gross sales figures can simply be manipulated to indicate no revenue in any respect. For instance, it could be claimed that manufacturing and distribution prices and promotional reductions negate any net revenue.

Some corporations could attempt to cut back your royalty earnings by promoting a product at an artificially low value to an affiliate firm. To prevent this danger, insist on your closing settlement on royalties primarily based on arm's length transactions.


A royalty is a fee to a proprietor for using property, particular patents, copyrighted works, franchises, or pure assets. A royalty fee is made to the authorized proprietor of the property, patent, copyrighted work, or franchise by those that want to make use of it for the purpose of producing income or other such actions. Generally, royalties are designed to compensate the proprietor for the asset's use, and they're legally binding.

A Close Look at “Royalty”

Royalties are sometimes expressed as a share of the revenues obtained utilizing the proprietor's property, but they are often negotiated to satisfy the certain need of an association. Using royalties is frequent in conditions in which an inventor or unique proprietor chooses to promote his product to a third party in exchange for royalties from the longer-term revenues it could generate. Computer producers pay Microsoft royalties to have the ability to use the Office windows operating system for the computer systems they manufacture. Royalties don't solely apply to software program giants. The sort of fee could also be non-renewable useful resource royalties, music royalties, patent royalties, copyrighted supplies, franchises, e-book publishing royalties, trademark royalties, and artwork royalties.

Well-known style designers can charge royalties for using their names and designs by different corporations. Authors, musical artists, and manufacturing professionals are paid for the utilization of their produced, copyrighted materials. Cable TV companies pay royalty funds to air the most seen stations nationwide. Royalties are additionally evident within the oil and gasoline industries, as corporations pay royalties for landowners for giving them the permission to extract pure assets from the landowners' lined property.

License Agreement

The terms under which royalties are primarily based on is named a license agreement. The license agreement defines the boundaries and restrictions of the royalties, comparable to its limitations pertaining to geographic territory, how long the settlement will last, or the kind of merchandise with specific royalty cuts. License agreements are regulated specifically if the useful resource proprietor is the federal government or if the license settlement is a non-public contract.

Royalty Rate

The royalty rate or the quantity of royalty charged per services or products will depend on the kind of royalty fee a party is paying. Many elements have an effect on the royalty fee. The most common ones include exclusivity of rights, availability of options, possible dangers, market demand construction, sustainability of applied sciences, and the extent of innovation the services or products gives.

The Inventor's Cut

If an inventor comes up with a concept and a producer does the manufacturing design, manufacturing, and promoting, it is most typical to license the invention, that is, to have the producer pay the inventor periodic royalties mainly based on a share of the online manufacturing unit gross sales value of the product. There are no customary royalty rates; they can vary from lower than one percent to greater than 30 percent, but most hover around five percent. The precise share will depend on numerous elements and your negotiating abilities.

A number of elements an inventor can use in negotiating a better fee are as follows:

  • The established status of the inventor
  • The anticipated gross sales quantity
  • The promoting value
  • The anticipated revenue margin
  • A product with nice ingeniousness and novelty

The following elements are likely to lower the royalty fee:

  • Plenty of anticipated competitors from different sources
  • Issue in making a settlement
  • Excessive start-up prices to design and manufacture the invention

Other means of compensating an inventor is for the producer to pay a share between 10 and 50 percent of the producer's revenue. Suppose the merchandise sells out of the manufacturing unit for $10 and it prices $7 to make it, like supplies, labor, overhead, insurance coverage, and administrative prices. If the inventor can get one-third of the revenue, he or she could be entitled to a royalty of $1 per piece of merchandise. Whereas this methodology is much less frequent, it compensates the inventor more immediately for what she or he has accomplished for the producer.

If you need help with your patent royalty, 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.