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license

license, in public law, permission by legal authority to engage in certain acts and also the document showing such permission. Some licenses are required for the protection of the public; they assure professional competence (e.g., physicians) or moral fitness (e.g., tavern keepers). Others are designed primarily to raise revenue or to keep a registry (e.g., automobile licenses). It is a crime to engage in a licensed activity without having first procured a license. In property law, a license is a right that the owner grants some other party to make use of his land. Such licenses are revocable at will if they are not part of a contract. They are personal and hence may not be sold; they expire on the death of the grantee. A license to cross another's land is an easement in gross. In patent law, a license is a written authority granted by the owner of a patent to another person, empowering the latter to make or use the patented article for a limited period or in a limited territory.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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