Chapter 10 - § 10.5 • LICENSES

§ 10.5 • LICENSES

§ 10.5.1—Definition of License

A license is a personal privilege to do some act or series of acts upon the land of another, not including possession of an estate or interest therein,368 which would otherwise be unlawful.369 Strictly speaking, a license is not property or a property right, nor is it a vested right. A license may be a "bare" license, a license coupled with an interest, or a license coupled with a grant.370 An example of a license coupled with an interest is the right of an owner of personal property to remove it when it has been placed on the land with the permission of the landowner.371 An admission ticket is a revocable license to witness a performance or attraction.372

§ 10.5.2—Licenses Distinguished from Other Interests

Within the narrow limits of technical definition the distinction between a license and a lease is clear, although in actual practice it frequently becomes vague and shadowy.373 Under a lease, an interest or estate in the land itself is created, which is not true of a mere license;374 a lease gives the right of possession and exclusive use or occupation for all purposes not prohibited by its terms.375 It often happens that before it can be determined whether the contract be the one or the other, it is necessary to ascertain the intent of the grantor, the understanding of the parties, especially where the contract is in writing and a consideration is to be paid, and the character of the acts permitted to be done.376

An easement, while distinct from ownership of land itself, is an interest in land; a license does not involve the possession of an estate or interest in land.377 A license is not a contract for the purposes of statutes of limitation.378

§ 10.5.3—Creation of Licenses

No formal language is necessary to create a license as long as the proper intent appears, and in the absence of statute it may be created by parol. No consideration is required unless the license amounts to an executory agreement.379

A license may be created by implication. For example, firemen380 and policemen have a license to enter the premises of another in the performance of their duties. But a policeman has no implied license to enter premises for the purpose of burglarizing the premises.381

§ 10.5.4—Characteristics of Licenses


Ordinarily a license has no fixed term or duration of time for its existence,382 but it may be for a definite or indefinite term, depending upon the provisions of the agreement.383


A license is ordinarily available only to the licensee to whom it is granted,384 and is not assignable without the consent of the licensor; an attempted unauthorized assignment terminates the license.385 An executed license, or one coupled with an interest, is assignable.386


A bare license ordinarily can be revoked at the pleasure of the licensor,387 regardless of how long the use has been permitted, but a license which confers an enforceable right, rather than a mere personal privilege, is not so revocable. Revocation may be either express or implied.388 A bare license is revoked ipso facto by the licensor's conveyance of the land389 or by the licensor's doing any act which is inconsistent with, or prevents the exercise of, the license.390 If the license granted by an admission ticket is revoked, the ticket holder's recovery is limited to the purchase price.391 A license coupled with a grant is usually not revocable,392 while a license coupled with an interest is not revocable.393

§ 10.5.5—Executed Licenses

The common law in regard to parol licenses, which held them revocable, has been modified in Colorado, particularly with regard to irrigation ditches.394 Thus, while a parol license to enter upon real property is generally revocable at the pleasure of the licensor, the license cannot be revoked when the licensee, on the faith of the license, with the knowledge of the licensor, has expended his or her money and labor in carrying out the object of the license.395 Payment of consideration is...

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