Intellectual property disputes between companies often involve the issue of licensing. It is critical for businesses with valuable intellectual property, especially in highly competitive and swiftly evolving industries, to build a sound approach to licensing. Doing so not only protects and defends intellectual property rights, but also can bring in significant revenue.
Licensing agreements can certainly be initiated by respectful and proactive communication between businesses prior to the launching of new goods and services, but they can also be initiated as a result of litigation or the threat of litigation. A not too distant example of the latter is a comprehensive patent license agreement between Apple and OpenTV over allegations that Apple products used for the live-streaming of online content made use of various technologies developed by OpenTV.
Apple denied the validity of the patent, but ended up settling with OpenTV prior to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s issuing a ruling on the matter. As if often the case, the financial terms of the agreement were not made public, but it was evidently a good enough deal to put the dispute to rest.
OpenTV has been involved in similar litigation with other companies, including Netflix, Yahoo, and more recently the NFL. The latter suit is aimed at online video content on the league’s website, NFL.com, as well as other NFL services.
For any business, it is important to be not only proactive in protecting intellectual property, but also defensive when legal disputes arise with competitors. Securing appropriate licensing agreements is certainly an important part of the picture. Working with legal counsel experienced in the area of intellectual property and technology licensing is critical to achieving these goals.