a Short overview of the different license types used under Zend Guard and PHP (Guard) Loader.
Licenses Used With Encoded PHP Applications
The encoder / licensing part in the Guard application (commercial), requires a license from your Zend account to operate. Without registering the IDE or CLI tools with zend_guard.zl, you are using Zend Guard in evaluation mode, which produces expiring files and licenses.
The Loader part which is a PHP extension, does not require a license to operate, and is a free component. Guard Loader loads and executes PHP encoded scripts produced by Zend Guard application or CLI tools, and validates licenses you have created with the Guard application IDE or CLI tools.
If you have in your php.ini license_path pointing to Guard commercial license, it is wrong and will not work.
If you have a license path which points to a license you produced, the license must be valid, and cannot be altered manually in a text editor.
You can generate a working license for your PHP application with the Guard IDE or CLI tools.
More in the Reference and KB below.