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The party in possession of a license. Licensees have been granted limited rights or permissions by a licensor in the form of a license. Licenses enable licensees to do something that would otherwise be legally prohibited. The rights a license grants to a licensee are limited by the authority of the licensor to confer such rights. That is, a licensee may not receive greater rights in a license than a licensor has the ability to bestow. Some examples of licensees include individuals with a driver’s license, individuals licensed to practice medicine, and an individual granted license by a landowner to store goods on the landowner’s land. Licensees may enter into a contractual relationship with a licensor to receive a license. 

In intellectual property law, a licensee is an entity that has limited rights or permissions to use a patenttrademark, or other intellectual property owned by the licensor. Intellectual property licensees and licensors usually enter into licensing agreements containing negotiated terms for use of the licensor’s property. Often, licensees agree to pay royalties to the licensor in exchange for the limited use of the intellectual property. An intellectual property license permits a licensee to use, make, and/or sell the licensed property.

In tort law, a licensee is distinguished in the common law from invitees and trespassers, usually for the purpose of ascertaining the duty of care owed by a property owner to an individual on his land in premises liability. Generally, licensees are people who have received express or implied invitation to enter the owned property without a mutually beneficial commercial relationship to the owner. For example, social guests visiting a friend’s house would be considered licensees under the common law. This is distinguished from invitees who usually enter the property for commercial or professional reasons, such as a person shopping at a grocery store.

The identification of licensees and the duty of care owed to licensees by owners varies by jurisdiction. For example, Georgia Code Section 51-3-2 defines a licensee as a person “permitted, expressly or impliedly, to go on the premises merely for his own interests, convenience, or gratification,” and holds premises owners “liable to a licensee only for willful or wanton injury.” In contrast, the Supreme Court of Idaho has held that landowners are “required to share with [a] licensee knowledge of dangerous conditions or activities on the land.”

[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]