Asia Patent Alliance

Licensing of jointly-owned patents in Japan, China and Korea


The table below illustrates if the consent of the co-owners is required for licensing jointly-owned patents in Japan, China and Korea.





Non-exclusive license



Not required

Exclusive license




In China however, jointly owned applications can be licensed freely. (Article 15)

If there are agreements regarding the exercise of rights by the co-owners of the right to apply for the patent or of the patent right, the agreements shall prevail. In the absence of such agreements, the co-owners may separately exploit the patent or may, in an ordinary manner, permit others to exploit the said patent. Where others are permitted to exploit the patent, the royalties received shall be distributed among the co-owners. Except under the circumstances specified in the preceding paragraph, exercise of the co-owned right to apply for patent or of the co-owned patent right shall be subject to the consent of all the co-owners.

Unlike in Japan and Korea if there is no contract between the co-owners, non-exclusive licenses can be issued freely in China. For exclusive licenses the consent of the co-owners is required. Therefore in case of jointly owned applications in China it is recommended to come to an agreement about licensing before filing. Also, if one owner receives royalties from a third party, they are obliged to distribute them among the co-owners. In Japan and Korea, whether royalties have to be distributed or not is settled in a contract between the related parties.