IP Insurance for Business Conference

Jane Lambert

On 2 July 2015 the Intellectual Property Office held a conference on IP insurance for business at the offices of the Association of British Insurers in Gresham Street. As I have written a lot of articles about IP insurance over the last 10 years I attended the conference with my colleague Ruhi Sethi. Many of the great and the good in intellectual property were there including Mr Justice Arnold, the senior patents judge and Andrea Brewster, president of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys.

Although the title of the conference was IP Insurance for Business its subject matter was very much wider, As you can see from the slides, only David Bloom of Safeguard IP and Dids Macdonld of ACID actually discussed IP insurance. I found Macdonld's speech particularly interesting in that she gave some details of an insurance scheme for ACID members which she had set up with Sybaris Legal and IP. That's the sort of deal I should like to negotiate for private inventors.

Mr Justice Arnold discussed different methods of dispute resolution. Dave Hopkins, Business Engagement Manager for the Intellectual Property Office, spoke about the services available from the IPO, Andrea Brewster proposed a triage scheme for advising small businesses on IP. Jeffrey Heasman argued for plain language in commercial contracts and insurance policies. Pippa Hall gave us lots of IP statistics. Nigel Swycher of Aistemos offered some tips on developing an IP strategy. Andrew Hildebrand mentioned mediation. Janis Makarewich-Hall gave us a progress report on the Unified Patent Court.

Those who attended the conference received a handout which included the following FAQ on IP insurance.

I would have preferred a more focussed agenda with discussions on alternative funding options like after-the-event insurance and litigation funding. It was good to talk abut alternative methods of dispute resolution but a trick was missed by not discussing the advantages of obtaining an examiner's opinion on the validity or infringement of a patent for £200 before contemplating proceedings, A favourable opinion may encourage an insurer to offer after-the-event cover or a litigation funder to bank roll an action, Finally, I was disappointed that nobody mentioned the Bar Council's Legal Costs Finance scheme which I discussed in Legal Cost Finance - Another Response to Sky Rocketing Court Fees 10 March 2015. They will help with the initial stages such as obtaining counsel's opinion or an application to the IPO for an examiner's opinion.

There were very few IP lawyers at the conference. Ruhi and I were the only members of the Bar and I spotted just a handful of law forms on the delegate list, Liz Ward of Vurtuoso Legal in Leeds was there but I spotted nobody from Bird & Bird, Bristows or Wragge Lawrence Graham. More importantly, there were not many patent agencies on the delegate list. As patent and trade mark attorneys prosecute patent, trade mark and design registration applications their co-operation i crucial if businesses are to take out IP cover.

Apparently, initial feedback was favourable which is good to hear. It was a good start to educating business on the advantages of IP insurance but a more focussed discussion could have been even better. Should anyone wish to discuss this article or IP insurance in general they should call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or use my contact form.


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