The transfer of formal record ownership in and title to an intellectual property right. It describes the wholesale transfer of rights as opposed to their licensing. Thus the outright sale of intellectual property, quasi-intellectual property, contractual rights including licenses, is carried out by assigning the underlying legal instrument creating the rights, e.g., the patent, copyright, trademark, contract, or license. As compared to an intellectual property license, a license agrees not to exercise rights to prohibit a licensee from infringing the rights; an assignment transfers to the assignee the power to prohibit others from infringement.

The extent of the rights conveyed by an assignment will typically be constrained by pre-existing licenses. Certain jurisdictions limit or prohibit the assignment of some intellectual property rights, for example Germany and the Czech Republic prohibit the assignment of copyright, providing that ownership can only be transferred by inheritance or testamentary transfer (i.e., in a will) (see, German Law on Copyright and Neighboring Rights, Arts. 28, 29; Czech Republic Copyright Act, Art. 26(1)). However, the author may grant an exclusive or non-exclusive license; since an exclusive license can be drafted in such a way as to grant all the privileges of ownership, the problem is not as serious as it at first sight appears. See Steps-In-the-Shoes-of.

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