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Ipglossary.com is a practical glossary for managers, executives and technologists as well as lawyers working in IP in an international environment. The glossary provides practical explanations of key legal and business terms in a large number of technology related fields including intellectual property, licensing, venture capital, corporate and securities law, antitrust and competition law, and of course terms relevant to technology, in general. Read more
In Tales of Uncle Remus, an 1881 anthology of African-American stories, songs, and oral folklore, collected and compiled by Joel Chandler Harris, there is a well known tale of a doll, a baby made of tar (i.e., bitumen, which in its raw state is known for its adhesive qualities), which ‘Brer-Fox’ tricks ‘Brer-Rabbit’ into touching. Brer-Rabbit then finds that the tar-baby is so sticky and contaminating that there is no way to detach himself from it.
A tar-baby license is usually a license of know-how or trade-secrets that is drafted in such a way that it is extraordinarily difficult for a licensee to subsequently develop a product, for example using a clean room, that is not subject to the license, its restrictions and provisions. A defining feature of a “tar-baby license” is the absence of a “residuals clause” or that clause’s limited nature. One or two software and computer manufacturers are notorious for using tar-baby licenses for access to technical information.
A recent political controversy in the United States arose over suggested racist connotations of the term “tar-baby” in some contexts – the term should therefore be used with caution. See, Click License, Shrink-Wrap License, Browse-Wrap License.