Unknown Uses

Under Czech law, a license may be granted only with respect to such a use of the work that is objectively known (from the technological point of view) at the time of the execution of the license agreement. This principle has never been modified. Under German law, on the other hand, the license may also be granted to uses not known to date.

In practice, the principle described above is sometimes bypassed. License agreements contain a special preliminary license provision that obliges the author (licensor) to grant the licensee a new license in the future (when a new use becomes known), which will authorize the licensee to use the work in ways that are not known as of the execution of the original license agreement and that may appear or become known in the future. Such a provision also contains an agreement on the respective license fee, or on the method such license fee will be determined or calculated. Such a design of the license agreement is in compliance with the Civil Code and the Copyright Act (the license is not granted on the date of the execution of the original license agreement where the respective use is not known, but on the date of the execution of the preliminary license agreement when the respective use has already become known, which is in formal compliance with copyright protection). It is to be seen how courts will judge such a provision. Some experts have raised their concern that this may constitute “circumvention of the law”.