Keeping Trademarks Covered: Avoiding Naked Licenses

Dec 13, 2017


As a business owner, it's essential to understand the value and importance of trademarks. Trademarks play a significant role in protecting your brand identity and ensuring that consumers can easily recognize and differentiate your products or services from others in the market. However, simply obtaining a trademark registration is not enough. To maintain the rights associated with your trademarks, you must actively use and control their licensing. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the concept of naked licenses, their potential risks, and effective strategies to avoid them while safeguarding your valuable trademarks.

What is a Naked License?

A naked license refers to a trademark licensing agreement where the trademark owner grants permission to another party (the licensee) to use their trademark without maintaining sufficient control over its quality and usage. In other words, it is a license granted without proper supervision or quality standards. When a naked license occurs, the trademark owner risks weakening or even losing their rights to the trademark due to the lack of control over the licensee's actions.

The Risks of Naked Licensing

Utilizing a naked license can have severe repercussions for your brand and its trademarks. Some of the key risks include:

  • Trademark Dilution: When a licensee fails to meet quality standards or misrepresents the licensed products or services, it can lead to dilution of the trademark, reducing its distinctiveness and value.
  • Loss of Trademark Rights: If a trademark owner does not exercise sufficient control over the licensee's use of the trademark, they risk losing their legal rights to the mark altogether.
  • Loss of Brand Reputation: Poor quality licensed products or services can reflect negatively on the trademark owner's brand reputation, causing customer confusion and dissatisfaction.
  • Legal Consequences: Failure to maintain proper control over a licensed trademark can result in legal disputes, potential injunctions, and financial penalties.

Avoiding Naked Licensing: Best Practices

1. Conduct Thorough Due Diligence

Before entering into a licensing agreement, it is crucial to conduct thorough due diligence on the potential licensee. This includes evaluating their track record, reputation, financial stability, and their ability to meet quality standards. Choosing a reputable and reliable licensee will significantly reduce the risk of naked licensing.

2. Establish Clear Licensing Requirements

Clearly outline the quality standards, terms, and conditions of the licensing agreement in writing. Specify the scope of use, the permitted goods or services, and any limitations on the licensee. This provides a foundation for maintaining control over the trademark and ensures that the licensee understands their responsibilities.

3. Regularly Monitor and Supervise

Actively monitor the licensee's use of the trademark to ensure compliance with the agreed-upon standards. Regularly review their products or services to assess quality and consistency. This ongoing supervision demonstrates your commitment to maintaining control over the licensed trademark.

4. Maintain Proper Documentation

Keep detailed records of the licensing agreement, communications with the licensee, and any actions taken to protect the trademark. This documentation can serve as evidence in case of disputes or legal proceedings, establishing the steps you've taken to prevent naked licensing.

5. Enforce Quality Control Measures

Implement robust quality control measures to ensure that the licensee maintains the required quality standards. Regular inspections, product testing, and periodic audits can help identify and address any potential issues proactively.

6. Termination and Revocation Rights

Include provisions in the licensing agreement that allow for termination or revocation of the license if the licensee fails to meet the established quality standards or breaches any other terms and conditions. This gives you the ability to take swift action if the need arises.


Protecting your trademarks should be a top priority for any business. By avoiding naked licensing and actively maintaining control over your licensed trademarks, you can safeguard your brand's reputation and legal rights. Baytowne Reporting is here to provide expert guidance and support to help you navigate the complexities of trademark licensing and ensure the long-term success of your business.