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How to Monetize Your Intellectual Property

Thank you for considering Stake to assist with your intellectual property monetization needs. Stake is an intellectual property boutique serving clients across the United States in both domestic and international matters. If you’re ready to chat about how we can assist you in monetizing your intellectual property, and find out whether Stake would be a good fit for your business, please complete our contact form!

Stake’s Difference: Unlike a firm just churning cases, we recognize the goal is to get a return-on-investment from your intellectual property, so we incorporate this fact into our strategy from the moment we first discuss your needs in a discovery call.

In fact, its from this principle that Stake derives its name. Our practical goal is to help you build, secure, and defend your stake in the marketplace.

Why Monetize your Intellectual Property?

The goal of protecting intellectual property is to get a return on investment. This ROI can materialize through royalties, sales, valuation, enforcement, cross-licenses, and more. Whether you have a patent (even just a patent application!), trademark, trade dress, copyright, or trade secret, a business’s intellectual property is often considered among its most important assets. Since it can be licensed, bought, sold, and more, intellectual property is often one of the foremost considerations for potential purchasers of a business, venture capitalists, or other investors.

What exactly is Intellectual Property Monetization?

As property rights, patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets can be held, licensed, sold, and more. This is accomplished by legal instruments like licenses and assignments. Licenses and assignments often form part of a larger business deal, and are surprisingly often overlooked or written ineffectively—this is why experience is critical.

Does my company own its Intellectual Property?

A question business need to keep in mind that is a prerequisite for monetization: who owns your intellectual property? Does your company own your intellectual property, or do you or your employees? Intellectual property is often created by employees, so it is important to consider how it is transferred to the business. Not all intellectual property is the same—for example, the “work-made-for-hire” doctrine that can be applicable in some cases for U.S. Copyright law does not extend to U.S. Patent law.

If you’re unsure of the answer to this question for any piece of intellectual property related to your company, just ask! It’s part of your Counsel Subscription.

How to Monetize your Intellectual Property?

Knowing monetization’s definition is one thing, but putting it into practice is another. That’s why Stake makes every effort to consider monetization throughout the entire lifecycle of your patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. We are able to employ a variety of strategies to monetize your intellectual property, including royalties, sales, valuations, enforcement, cross-licenses, and nondisclosure agreements.


Royalties are a common way to monetize intellectual property, especially if you are seeking to have another bring the intellectual property to market. Examples could include an author having a publisher print and sell a copyrighted book or having a manufacturer produce and sell a patented device. Royalties are accomplished through sale or licensing of intellectual property. A royalty often takes the form of a percentage of profits (gross or net) or a nominal dollar amount on sales of the covered product or service.

Oftentimes, it’s difficult to determine what a reasonable royalty might be for a given piece of intellectual property. Stake is able to help you figure this out.


Sales are another way in which intellectual property is monetized. Sale of intellectual property is a full realization of its market value. Sales can be standalone sale of an individual patent, trademark, copyright, or trade secret, or part of a much larger deal. The latter frequently occurs in a merger or acquisition. In any case, sales of intellectual property are accomplished through something called an “assignment.”

Stake is able to help in these cases as your intellectual property counsel (even corporate attorneys running large M&A deals usually prefer to have intellectual property counsel, since it’s often such an important part of the deal).


What about a company wanting to exploit its own intellectual property rather than sell or license it? The effect of intellectual property on a company’s valuation is one of the biggest monetization tactics for startups in particular. While it can be difficult to pin down an exact dollar amount for a piece of intellectual property (spoiler alert: we can ballpark this if you need it done!), the impact on valuation can be understood with a quick example:

If you have a patent that stakes out your corner of the marketplace, and prevents—or even impedes or scares off—competitors large and small from trying to compete with you, this creates a barrier to entry for your competitors and potential competitors. Now, compare how a startup with this leverage is valued in the eyes of a venture capital firm to a startup that has not put up any meaningful barriers to entry. How does this affect that venture capital firm’s decision to invest in a funding round?

Have questions about how intellectual property impacts the valuation of your company? Just ask—it’s part of your Counsel Subscription.


Enforcement of intellectual property is one of the most-overlooked forms of monetizing intellectual property by startups and small businesses. This may primarily be due to the expense often involved (though Stake does offer contingency litigation options on a case-by-case basis). Enforcement can be accomplished through litigation, whether in court or in the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), though most cases can be resolved in pre-litigation following a cease-and-desist letter, a demand letter, or negotiations.


Cross-licensing is another aspect of intellectual property often overlooked, but it becomes very important in a particular situation that’s best described by way of an example:

Let’s say you’ve patented an invention that is really best described as an improvement on an invention another company patented. The other company has what’s called a “blocking patent”—meaning, although you have patented your invention, their patent is broader and you would infringe on their patent if you tried to make, sell, or use your invention. If your improvement is desired by the market, we have a way around this: a cross-license.

What we do when cross-licensing is approach the owner of the blocking patent with a deal offer that includes their licensure to you and you to them, so that both of you can make, use, and sell both your and their inventions without infringing on the other. Depending on other factors, the license may include royalties or other business terms.

Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA)

Particularly when you’re getting ready to start discussions of business deals, it can be important to ensure that your non-public intellectual property can be discussed—and that it’s kept private. Nondisclosure Agreements (NDAs) are a way to accomplish this using contract law. The basic arrangement is that a party promises to not disclose confidential information shared by the other party. This promise is enforced by the prospect of civil penalties for breach of contract if the receiving party discloses it in such a way that breaches the NDA.

Need a simple NDA? Go ahead and grab one from our form library—it’s part of your Counsel Subscription.

Releases & Dedication to the Public

Releases may not seem like a way to make money off of intellectual property, but always keep in mind your business goals, and you might see there are some—albeit rare—situations where a tactical release of intellectual property is to your advantage. Here’s an example:

Let’s say your company is in a market with a very low barrier to entry. You’ve got a pretty different feature you’re providing, and you’re not confident you will be able to get a patent on the feature. You’re concerned a big competitor may come along and see that you’re the only one in the market with this advantageous new feature and try to take advantage of having only one competitor (you). It may be desirable in such a case to inspire additional competition to ward off the truly concerning competition.

What about Antitrust Law?

Antitrust. If you’re a business stakeholder with some understanding of that word, hearing it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up a little bit.

Antitrust law, in the broadest sense, is the government’s enforcement mechanism to maintain competition in the marketplace by preventing things like conspiracies, monopolies, price fixing, tying, etc.

Intellectual property necessarily suppress competition (for example, a patent provides a limited monopoly on the patented invention). Thus, it’s often considered to be like an exception—though not a complete exception—to Antitrust law. It’s absolutely critical when considering monetization strategies to be mindful of the guardrails of Antitrust law, which we’ll help you navigate while creating and executing your monetization strategy.

How can Stake help Monetize your Intellectual Property?

Stake can help you through the entire lifecycle of your intellectual property—from creation through monetization. If you’re ready to chat about our intellectual property services and find out whether Stake would be a good fit for your business, please complete our contact form today!

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