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Licensing agreements can be a huge source of revenue for those who own the rights, as companies will often pay well to be able to put logos and other information on their merchandise and products. For example, apparel companies that make shirts with NFL team logos on them have to license the rights to those logos, as they carry an intrinsic value -- people will buy the clothing specifically because of the logos.

So, what area brings in the most revenue every year? Character licensing from television shows and movies comes in at the very top. It brings in $2.55 billion dollars every year. These characters show up on clothing, dishes, toys, video games and in many other places.

Next on the list are trademarks and brands, with $928 million in annual revenue. They are followed closely by fashion licensing, which brings in $755 million per year.

Fourth on the list, you'll find sports licensing, with $685 million in revenue. This is a general category, but it's important to note that it encompasses a lot of the major sports leagues, such as the National Football League and the National Hockey League. Naturally, sports leagues all bring in different totals; the NFL is more popular than the NHL and generates a lot more income every single year, for example.

As you can see, in any area, licensing is very important and creates a lot of revenue that gets spread out between all sorts of products and merchandise. It's crucial for those holding the rights to know how to monitor the way these things are being used, and manufacturers and others must also know what they legally need to do to get an official license and avoid a lawsuit for illegal using intellectual property.

Source: The International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association, "Types of Licensing," accessed July 01, 2016

The author's opinions expressed in this article are strictly his/her own and should not be attributed to any others, including other attorneys at Klein DeNatale Goldner or the law firm as a whole.