Intellectual property is any type of creative work. Many types of IP have immediate protection for the person who created it or there is a legal process for securing the rights to the property.
The ownership rights of the IP allow them to freely use, distribute and manage it. Owners may decide to allow others to use their IP through licensing, or they may wish to sell the IP to someone else under a transfer. The two processes are quite different.
Licensing IP means you are giving someone else the right to use it. However, this happens under an agreement. The user must abide by all the terms and conditions of the licensing agreement. You still retain all rights to it, and under the agreement, you will receive royalties. If the other person uses the IP in a way that is not allowable under the licensing terms, then you can take action against them.
When you transfer your rights to IP, you are giving the ownership to someone else. They have free use as if they created the IP. You will usually get a one-time payment for the purchase, but you will not receive any additional payment. You also lose all rights to determine how the new owner will use the IP.
If you have intellectual property and you wish to allow others the right to use it, you have two options: licensing or transfer. Before making a decision on which way to go, it is essential to understand what each means.