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sub·​li·​cense ˌsəb-ˈlī-sᵊn(t)s How to pronounce sublicense (audio)
variants US sublicense or chiefly British sublicence
plural sublicenses
: a subordinate license granted to another by one already having a license
Universities often work to breed products especially suited to their state's agricultural needs. When they develop appropriate products, they'll seek plant variety protection (similar to a patent) through the federal government, then maintain the purity of that product by selling it to a company with a sublicense for the seed. In turn, they receive royalties …Carla Joinson


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variants US sublicense or British sublicence
sublicensed; sublicensing

transitive verb

: to grant a sublicense for (something)
The company plans to incorporate the system into a demonstration facility for recycling vehicles and will sublicense the … technology to automobile shredders worldwide.John DeGaspari

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web
More than fifty companies around the world have already contacted the Patent Pool to obtain a sublicense to produce the drug, and the Gates Foundation has pledged a hundred and twenty million dollars to support generic-drug makers. Dhruv Khullar, The New Yorker, 21 Nov. 2021
The increase was driven by strong growth in music subscription revenues, supplemented by growth in revenues from long-form audio, despite a decrease in sublicensing revenues and advertising revenues. Patrick Frater, Variety, 21 Mar. 2023 The agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool, an organization that works to make medical treatment and technologies globally accessible, will allow companies in 105 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia, to sublicense the formulation for the antiviral pill, called molnupiravir, and begin making it. Stephanie Nolen, New York Times, 27 Oct. 2021 Instagram's terms of service require anyone uploading photos to provide a copyright license to Instagram—including the right to sublicense the same rights to other users. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, 4 June 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sublicense.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1814, in the meaning defined above


1814, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sublicense was in 1814

Dictionary Entries Near sublicense

Cite this Entry

“Sublicense.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jun. 2023.

Legal Definition


: a license granted by a licensee that grants some or all of the rights (as to a patent) acquired under the original license
sublicense verb
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