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Licensing business hits the Web

No longer just a way to waste time in on-line casinos or chat rooms, the Internet is quickly becoming a meeting place for licensors and licensees to meet and do business via special sites....
June 1, 2000

No longer just a way to waste time in on-line casinos or chat rooms, the Internet is quickly becoming a meeting place for licensors and licensees to meet and do business via special sites.

Rob Fried, chairman and CEO of WhatsHotNow.com, is hooking up with e-commerce platform provider Ariba to launch a business-to-business marketplace for the licensing industry called the WHN Exchange later this month. The site will introduce properties to licensees, licensors, retailers and consumers, and will enable licensing deals to be carried out entirely on-line. For example, a new film’s licensor can showcase its property and offer rights on-line. Licensors can present on-line promotion programs to retailers, and licensees can learn about the brands through real-time feedback from members of the industry and consumers.

‘Licensees will be able to shop around for the rights that are out there and put a little bit of science into the process of choosing which licenses they’re going to buy for their products,’ says Fried. Licensees will also be able to bid for licenses and sell merchandise directly to retailers. A portion of the site, The Hot List, lets consumers vote on what the hottest brands are, allowing licensees to gauge business propositions.

EM.TV & Merchandising is introducing a similar venture called the Virtual License Exchange, a virtual market in which EM.TV sells licenses to its products. It’s expected to be functional by July.

On-line licensing services such as La Jolla, California-based IPConsor.com and Columbia, Maryland-based FastTrends.com, which recently purchased New York-based Infotex, are other examples of companies that offer the on-line licensing community access to databases full of licensing information and contacts. IPConsor.com provides free access, while FastTrends.com charges fees ranging from US$480 to US$6,000. Licensors showcasing their properties on FastTrends.com are not charged, but licensees pay a transaction fee when they submit a request for proposal, for example. FastTrends.com’s site will be launched later this month, and IPConsor.com’s site is already up and running.

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