De-risking Disruption: How Intellectual Property Insurance Can Level The Playing Field For Small Business

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As a technology lawyer, I have the privilege of seeing the passion, vision, and genius behind the innovation that drives some of the most disruptive technology companies around. By definition, disruption means interrupting the normal course, and disruptors usually have a new and innovative take on a new product, design, or brand. In general, emerging companies do a good job managing some of the risks associated with being a disruptive business, but I rarely see an appreciation for de-risking the impact of intellectual property litigation on a business from trademark, patent, and copyright trolling by market incumbents. Don’t think errant troll litigation can happen to you? Well, listen to this.

Become David And Beat Goliath

During a recent trip to Washington, DC I happened to run into celebrity chef Robert Irvine (known for Food Network’s Dinner Impossible) at baggage claim in the airport. So what do I do?  I start chatting him up about intellectual property of course. I shared with him why I was in town and was curious whether intellectual property played a substantial role in his businesses. In response to my curiosity, he shared with me a brief episode in the history of one of his brands as sold through one of his companies. He shared with me that in the not too distant past, a large snack manufacturer sued him. The manufacturer alleged that a brand sold by Mr. Irvine’s company infringed the trademark and trade dress of the manufacturer.  Mr. Irvine went on to share that not only did he develop a respect and appreciation for his trademark attorney during this time; he also developed a keen appreciation for the value of intellectual property insurance. His intellectual property insurance supported his legal action, making it possible to hire a great legal team that went against the snack behemoth to protect his business. In the end, Mr. Irvine continues to sell his products under the same brand name and has even extended his line of product offerings.

A Few Insurance Tools to De-risk Disruption

So here’s what you need to know about de-risking disruption. There are numerous IP insurance products that exist in the marketplace, here are a few:

1.     Patent Defense insurance covers the cost of a company defending a patent infringement suit

2.     Patent Enforcement insurance covers the cost of a company suing on the company’s patents

3.     Commercial General Liability insurance covers the cost of a company defending against copyright, trade dress or slogan infringement allegations

Get Regular IP Legal Opinions and Advice

Whether and when to invest in a specific intellectual property insurance product is a decision made on a case-by-case basis with the help of a qualified insurance professional.  Keep in mind there are numerous caveats, and policies vary.  However, in most cases, a carrier will want to understand whether an intellectual property attorney regularly advises a business on IP risk. Whether a company routinely obtains copyright, trademark, and patent legal counsel and opinions can be a crucial factor in whether a carrier chooses to write a policy.

Get More Information 

Contact Precipice IP, PLLC for more information about ways to de-risk the threat of intellectual property litigation on your business.

A version of this article appeared in the NWABJ.

Angela Grayson is the Principal and Founder of Precipice IP, PLLC.  She practices before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and is a registered patent attorney. Ms. Grayson is licensed to practice before the Mississippi Supreme Court and is admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court Bar. Contact Angela Grayson @ 479.259.2966.