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Business Law: Commercial Transactions & Licensing

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Transactional
Business Law
Commercial Transactions & Licensing

Commercial law governs business and commercial transactions. It is a branch of civil law and deals with issues of both private law and public law. Commercial law regulates corporate contracts and the manufacture and sale of consumer goods. In the U.S., commercial law is the province of both Congress and the states. In many law firms, the commercial transactions practice is heavily tied in with the intellectual property practice and may be called the “technology transactions” practice or “licensing” practice.

Lawyers who work on commercial and technology transactions assist their clients with the acquisition, financing, marketing and sale of various goods, services, products and technologies. They help their clients protect, use and license their products and services, providing advice about the protection of IP portfolios, from issues like the branding of their products to the development and licensing of [...]

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Commercial law governs business and commercial transactions. It is a branch of civil law and deals with issues of both private law and public law. Commercial law regulates corporate contracts and the manufacture and sale of consumer goods. In the U.S., commercial law is the province of both Congress and the states. In many law firms, the commercial transactions practice is heavily tied in with the intellectual property practice and may be called the “technology transactions” practice or “licensing” practice.

Lawyers who work on commercial and technology transactions assist their clients with the acquisition, financing, marketing and sale of various goods, services, products and technologies. They help their clients protect, use and license their products and services, providing advice about the protection of IP portfolios, from issues like the branding of their products to the development and licensing of their technologies. They may represent clients from diverse industries in acquisitions of technology: for example, global hardware purchases, in-bound licensing agreements or complex technology development or service agreements like strategic joint ventures or systems integration agreements. They may also negotiate and draft outsourcing agreements.

Lawyers working in this practice area may represent clients from diverse industries. Some become more familiar with the business and technology of one industry sector than another. For example, the consumer products or the sports and entertainment industries have different business and IP issues than do the life science or computer technology sectors. Among the variety of agreements lawyers working in any of these sectors may deal with are: co-branding agreements, distribution and reseller agreements, and research and development agreements (for example, between corporations and universities or laboratories). For those commercial/licensing lawyers dealing with IP issues it is key to have a solid understanding of IP law, and it is recommended that students take several IP courses. In addition, an understanding of the following related subject areas is important to a commercial/licensing practice: antitrust, secured transactions, tax, international, M&A and corporate.

The business or corporate world employs most commercial lawyers. Many are employed at private law firms, including boutiques. Governments at local, federal and international levels may all have commercial lawyers on their staffs. Commercial/licensing lawyers may also be employed as “in-house” counsel by public utilities, banks, insurance companies, real estate agencies, manufacturing firms, or other business firms and nonprofit organizations. In fact, many large public companies will have a staff of commercial/licensing lawyers that work closely with the business folks, especially those in the sales and marketing departments.

 
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