What if I license others to use my trademark?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 9, 2011

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Trademarks, similar to other forms of intellectual property, can be licensed to whomever you want. Proper licensing requires signed contracts detailing the terms of the trademark license. If your business has reached a point of growth that exceeds your manufacturing or supervisory ability, it is time to license others to use your trademark. Additionally, many restaurants and stores extend their business reach into new states by licensing their trademark and business concept. These businesses are known as franchises.

Every major business and legal decision should be in writing. Aside from the obvious business record purposes, it gives both parties a reference if there are any doubts or questions. A written and signed trademark license contract also gives the trademark owner a legal claim should the licensee use the trademark in a manner that is outside of the contracted rights. Both parties names, business addresses and contact information should always be in the contract. Furthermore, list the specific trademark using its trademark number and place a picture of the trademark in the contract. List the specific amount required for maintenance of the trademark and the expectation of uses as well as any uses that are impermissible. For example, you may want to require that the licensee clearly and frequently declare the license relationship on packaging and advertising materials. For example, “Manufactured by XYZ Co., under authority of ABC Co., owner of the trademark DEF.”

You should also place a signature box at the end of the contract where both parties and a notary sign. The notary’s signature is evidence of the accuracy of the parties named in the contract. Trademark licensing is a complex area of business law. If you are interested in licensing your trademark to other users, always consult with a business attorney.

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