Incidental or willful infringement of intellectual property can be a costly offense, and in an increasingly litigious business environment, companies must take action to limit the associated risks.
Many companies tend to focus on first-party issues such as patent acquisition when building their IP management strategies. However, infringement upon third-party IP should also be taken into consideration, according to insurance broker Shane Moran.
"First and foremost, companies need to realize the exposure exists; it's real and affects all industries," Moran wrote in his latest Smarter Business report. "Many companies just shrug and believe they don't have that exposure, they don't deal with patent information - but it's out there in every industry."
With social media and other technologies quickly complicating IP issues, the time to develop internal compliance programs is now. According to Moran, it is essential for companies to communicate across departments to update policies and ensure that any third-party content is either out of copyright or permission is being actively pursued.
Although business managers have likely heard these recommendations before, the potential expense of third-party IP lawsuits may be the most important motivating factor. According to Claims Journal, a recent American Intellectual Property Law Association survey suggested that - for a case involving assets worth less than $1 million dollars - average total litigation costs can be higher than $900,000. Also, that figure does not take into account the possibility that defendants may lose and be asked to pay additional damages to the plaintiff.