If you think of Intellectual Property in terms of innovation, creation and brand awareness, then protecting that IP is crucial to any technology business or product.
In such a varied, fast paced and ever changing industry, disputes over the legalities of an intellectual property’s ownership frequently occur, whether that be a dispute relating to the breach of :
• Copyright – which protects the expression of original works of authorship
• Trademark – which protects any word, sign or logo capable of distinguishing goods or services
• Publicity Rights – which protect the control of an individual’s name, image or likeness used for commercial use
• Patent Infringement – which protects the invention of a solution to a specific problem, product or process
With computer software being regarded as a work of literature here in the UK and protected by copyright automatically arising on its creation, the following areas of concern are where we see the majority of client disputes :
When creating or adapting software – Even though replicating the look, feel or functionality of a software product is not copyright infringement, unless the software code itself is copied, this does not stop allegations being made and costs incurred to defend such a claim.
Issues surrounding development – Generally intellectual property generated by employees in the course of their employment will be owned by the employer, unless otherwise stated in their employment contract. Unlike employees, IP created by third party contractors generally belongs to the contractor, even though they are being paid to develop IP for another. Needless to say, the importance for clear and expressed terms properly assigning software development work over to the appropriate party is essential.
Using software under licence – For third party software being used under Licencing Agreements, being aware of any restrictions relating to the maximum number of users, the scope in which the software is used and any territorial limitations, is key to avoiding inadvertently infringing those intellectual property rights. We all know of firms who have progressed rapidly overnight, taking on more staff, branching off into other areas of development, alongside expansion to overseas locations.
Here at Macbeth we offer insurance solutions which can provide coverage for all of the above scenarios to:
• Act as the first response in defending a potential allegation of IP infringement, covering the defence costs from the initial outlay and any damages, if awarded in a lawsuit
• Cover your costs and expenses in the pursuit of a potential infringer impacting your own intellectual property and cost associated to any potential counter claim
• Or both of the above combined