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Discover the Force in licensing

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Business, Trade marks

Excitement is building at a rate of knots in our house for the widely anticipated Star Wars film, Episode VII The Force Awakens.

Any new snippet of information is scrutinised for vital clues by both my husband and my son. Like many others, they have been massive fans for as long as I can remember.

Tipped to be one of the highest grossing films to date, it’s expected to follow in the footsteps of other box office smashes like Titanic and Avatar.

It’s been 10 years since the release of Revenge of the Sith and 38 years since the introduction of iconic characters such as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. This classic combination of jaw-dropping special effects and a triumphant story of good versus evil was an instant success that changed the face of cinema forever.

The Force is why I cannot secretly resist waving a Lightsaber around whilst also making a vrum noise. (This took a great deal of research for me to be able to capture in words the actual sound of a light saber!)

There are a staggering 105 trade marks registered in the by UK by Lucasfilm Entertainment and Lucasfilm Ltd. 19 of these are for the words ‘Star Wars’ and other terms such as Sith, Obi – Wan Kenobi and Yoda are all registered trade marks too.

With a release date of 17 December this year, it’s a safe bet that there will be an endless range of Star Wars merchandise. Toys, books, clothes, action figures, playsets and costumes will no doubt be on many letters to Santa.

But how do the owners of such established brands ensure that their IP is protected to the highest degree?

One way to do this is to license out your IP for a fee. Obtaining a licence gives you the permission to use someone else’s Intellectual Property. The terms to this licence are set out between the IP right owner and another party. So, the licensee must follow the terms and conditions set out in the licence to ensure that consistent high quality and standards are maintained and that the company’s reputation is upheld.

Lucas Film and its operating businesses were acquired by The Walt Disney Company in 2012 at a valuation of over $4 billion. They are the world’s largest licensor with Disney consumer products reporting retail sales of licensed merchandise worldwide in 2012 of over $39 billion. Their licensing origins date as far back as 1929 when Walt Disney licensed the image of Mickey Mouse.

There are several benefits of licensing your IP. For example, obtaining a licence to use existing IP could mean getting your products or services to market a lot quicker. There are savings to time and money because the risk and expense of the research and also the costs of developing the product is removed.

Licensing IP to a third party to sell in territories that you are unable to cover may generate significantly more income. This could also help to increase brand awareness on a global scale and could gain an advantage over your competitors.

If licensing is something that you are considering, then we do recommend that always seek professional legal advice before you make your decision. It is important to assess how licensing might help the needs and objectives of your business.

Whatever you decide, may the Force be with you!

[Featured image of Skellig Michael Sunset by Denis Moynihan on Flickr used under Creative Commons.]

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