An Overview of Intellectual Property Insurance Issues

Omid Safa and Daniel R. Belzil

The strategic importance and economic value of intellectual property (“IP”) can hardly be overstated in today’s global marketplace. Recognizing this, companies devote considerable time and resources to protect their vital IP assets and minimize the financial harm if/when problems arise. Evaluating the risks, understanding the insurance options available, and purchasing meaningful coverage that aligns with the needs of the business are critical pieces of the risk-management puzzle. Navigating the various options can be difficult. This article outlines some of the major issues.

Initially, policyholders have traditionally looked to their Commercial General Liability (“CGL”) policies to respond to IP disputes. Standard-form CGL policies typically cover “advertising injury” (sometimes called “personal and advertising injury”) which, depending on how these terms are defined in the policy, can cover some types of IP claims.

However, not all IP-related claims will fall within the “advertising injury” coverage in a CGL policy. Continue reading “An Overview of Intellectual Property Insurance Issues”

PAX Dev: Insurance 101 for Video Game Developers and Publishers

Erin L. Webb

On August 28, 2014, I presented with insurance broker Sara Owens of GNW Evergreen, a division of HUB International, at PAX Dev in Seattle, Washington. PAX Dev is a conference devoted to the video game developer community and the topic of game making. Conference tracks focused on programming, design, business, art, music and more.

During our session, which was part of the business track, we talked about basic insurance concepts relevant to developers and publishers in the video game industry, including how to buy insurance and what to do in the event of a loss. Continue reading “PAX Dev: Insurance 101 for Video Game Developers and Publishers”

Potential Insurance Coverage for Lawsuits Against Video Game Publishers Alleging Copyright Infringement of Celebrity Tattoo Art

Erin L. Webb

Two video game publishers have recently been targets of lawsuits alleging that their video game and box art infringed upon tattoo artists’ copyrights. Electronic Arts (EA) has been sued over the 2004 title NFL Street, with star athlete Ricky Williams — and his tattoo — prominently figured on the front of the box. The tattoo artist alleges that EA did so without his permission and in infringement of his copyright to the tattoo design. Another artist sued THQ, publisher of UFC Undisputed 3, alleging that the in-game model of Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Carlos Condit used a copyrighted tattoo design without permission. These types of lawsuits may give rise to coverage under the target companies’ liability insurance policies, which could help to defray the costs of defending against those lawsuits and potentially the costs of any resulting liability or settlement.

Though policy wordings may differ, in general, most comprehensive general liability (CGL) policies cover “personal and advertising injury liability.” If the policyholder company is sued, and the claims involve “advertising injury” as defined by the policy, the policyholder is potentially entitled to a defense and indemnity for any liability. Though some policies contain exclusions for copyright infringement, an exception to that exclusion may grant coverage back for “infringement . . . in your ‘advertisement’, of copyright, trade dress or slogan.” Continue reading “Potential Insurance Coverage for Lawsuits Against Video Game Publishers Alleging Copyright Infringement of Celebrity Tattoo Art”