Intellectual property license agreements often include a provision by which the licensor is paid a royalty that is calculated as a percentage of the revenue received by the licensee from licensed products. Given that licensees have a financial incentive to reduce the amount of revenue that is reported*, the prudent licensor includes an audit provision in the license agreement.
The audit provision typically:
- Specifies the frequency and nature of audits that may be conducted;
- Provides that the licensee will pay any underpayment amount that is discovered plus interest; and
- Obligates the licensor to pay for the audit unless the underpayment exceeds X% of the royalty that was due, in which case the licensee must reimburse the licensor for the cost of the audit.
A fundamental tenet of patent law is that the owner of a patent can preclude others from using or manufacturing inventions that the patent covers. Because of eminent domain, however, that there is a major loophole regarding the U.S. government.
Section 1498(a) of Title 28 of the U.S. Code says, in part:
“Whenever an invention described in and covered by a patent of the United States is used or manufactured by or for the United States without license of the owner thereof or lawful right to use or manufacture the same, the owner’s remedy shall be action against the United States in the United States Court of Federal Claims for recovery of his reasonable and entire compensation for such use and manufacture.”
(Section 1498(b) provides similarly with respect to copyright infringement by the United States.) (more…)
One of the challenges my clients often face is how to determine a royalty rate for licensing an invention or other intellectual property. I start by offering the following fundamental observation:
The licensor needs to know the licensee’s business model and profit margin, because the royalty must be less than the licensee’s profit.
An article in the September 2006 issues of les Nouvelles, a quarterly publication of the Licensing Executives Society International, agrees with and expands upon this observation. “Fair And Reasonable Royalty Rate Determination – When Is The 25% Rule Applicable?” was written by Ove Granstrand, Professor of Industrial Management and Economics at Chalmers University of Technology (Goteborg, Sweden). (more…)