A license agreement is a formal, preferably written document recording the circumstances under which a promise is legally binding on the person making it. There are at least two essential parties: the licensor, the party who owns the IP and is agreeing to let it be used, and the licensee, the party who receives the right to use the IP in exchange for payment.
For an IP license to be effective, three basic conditions must be met:
A company that owns rights in a patent, know-how, or other IP assets, but cannot or does not want to be involved in the manufacturing of products, could benefit from the licensing out of such IP assets and rely on the better manufacturing capacity, wider distribution outlets, greater local knowledge and management expertise of another company (the licensee). Licensing out could also help a company to commercialize its IP or expand its current operations into new markets more effectively and with greater ease than on its own.
Similarly, licensors with experience in the field of research and product development may find it more efficient to license out new products rather than take up production themselves. A company that owns IP rights in a technology that it cannot afford to manufacture could consider licensing out the IP rights in that technology for manufacturing and selling products embodying the technology in a specific manner for a specific time and region. Thus, the licensor continues to have the IP rights in the technology and has only given a defined right to the use of that technology.