What Is “Intellectual Property Insurance” And Does My Company Need It?

Chances are you already know a thing or two about intellectual property (also referred to as IP). Normally, IP isn’t something you can touch or feel. This type of property is different. It can be an artistic creation, an idea for an invention, or even computer code. Designs, logos, and brands are also considered forms of IP. And depending on the type of IP, your property might be covered by one of several branches of IP law: patents, copyright, trade secrets, or trademarks.

Why are there so many laws governing artistic expression and ideas? Well, the reason is simple: people tend to steal ideas as readily as they steal physical property. And what’s more, it’s usually easier to get away with stealing something that isn’t tangible! That’s also one of the reasons why IP owners might consider buying insurance for this type of property.

But what is intellectual property insurance? After all, you can’t truly protect something untouchable. IP usually can’t be broken. IP insurance is different in that its primary function is covering legal costs over everything else. When you have your IP stolen and need to build a lawsuit, your policy should help cover those costs. When someone sues you for the alleged theft of their IP, your policy might protect you for that too.

IP insurance generally comes in two distinct packages. The first is called “infringement defense.” This is popular because many big companies that own IP will inevitably be sued for thefts of which they are not guilty. When someone sues you for theft of IP or infringement of IP, this is the type of insurance you need to feel safe.

The second type of IP insurance is called “abatement enforcement coverage.” This insurance provides additional funds to tackle claims of their own. When someone steals your ideas, you want to sue them without taking additional losses. 

An anonymous lawyer at Seder Law explained, “We hear many arguments in court related to intellectual property. Most clients don’t have insurance for what they own, but we always point them in the right direction. You have homeowners insurance to protect your home. You have car insurance to protect your vehicle. You even have medical insurance to protect yourself. So why not protect your ideas?”

Infringement of IP isn’t always clear-cut. This is especially true when you need to prove that another company stole your ideas in a court of law. For example, let’s say you wrote a screenplay for a TV pilot. Network executives for imaginary studio “Dirty Thieves” passed on your project. A second imaginary studio we’ll call “White Knights” gave the project a green light. While your new show is still in the pilot-planning stages, Dirty Thieves announces a new show — suspiciously similar to the one you’re working on. You have the right to sue for infringement because it looks like they stole your idea after deciding not to buy it from you.