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MISSION:INTANGIBLE, the blog of the Intangible Asset Finance Society, offers critical comments on intangible asset, corporate reputation, and finance; supplemented by quantitative reputation metrics. Intangible assets include business processes, patents, trademarks; reputations for ethics and integrity; quality, safety, sustainability, security, and resilience; and comprise 70% of the average company's value. MISSION:INTANGIBLE is a registered trademark of the Intangible Asset Finance Society.

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Hyundai: Court says defend me!

Nir Kossovsky - Monday, April 12, 2010
The Intangible Asset Finance Society is absorbed with issues at the interface of finance, risk, and the six major business processes that drive reputation: ethics, innovation, quality, safety, sustainability, and security. Today's note, courtesy of Society member Bruce Berman, CEO of Brody Berman Associates, Inc., a specialized management consulting and communications firm, is exemplary of core Society interests. Bruce writes,

In a story that received surprisingly scant media coverage, an appeals court has decided that two insurance companies must provide defense coverage to Hyundai against patent infringement claims by a non-practicing entity (NPE), also known as a patent troll, because the company’s policy covers advertising injury. As reported by the Courthouse News Service and IP Law 360 on April 7, the federal appeals court reversed a lower court decision when it ruled that Hyundai Motor America (SEO:011760) is entitled to defense coverage by National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa.,  a unit of AIG.

The case involved a patent infringement suit over an advertising method that ended with a $34 million verdict against the automaker. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Monday that Judge James Selna of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California erred when he granted summary judgment to National Union and American Home Assurance Co. on the grounds that patent infringement does not constitute “advertising injury” for the purposes of an insurance policy.

As reported in IPL360 “
Gene Schaerr, a partner at Winston & Strawn LLP who represented Hyundai, called the ruling a ‘tremendous victory.’ Schaerr stated that the ruling is significant not only for Hyundai, but for a large number of other companies with similar policies that cover advertising injury. "The insurance industry has been taking the position that such policies don’t apply to patent infringement and other alleged wrongs involving Web sites,” he noted. The case began in 2005, when Hyundai was one of 20 automakers sued by patent-holding company Orion IP LLC, now known as Clear with Computers LLC, in the Eastern District of Texas over a patent for a method of generating customized product proposals.

Bruce adds, "I wonder how many companies are aware that some of their existing insurance coverages may fund IP defense if not liability?"

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