Does general liability insurance protect me from copyright violation?

The simplest answer is: most of the time. General liability insurance’s primary purpose is to cover bodily injury and property damages. But, there are many contracts out there that can help protect you from copyright violation, as it becomes an increasing concern.

What is copyright infringement?

Some companies, especially big businesses, own a copyright: a type of exclusive legal right to something – like a logo or a print. It can be anything whatsoever, and in order to copyright something, the company has to prove they own the right to it. But once they have done so, you can’t use whatever they have copyrighted for your own benefit, without permission from the owner.

The most common case for small businesses stems from their logos. When designing your business’ logo, you probably thought that everyday items aren’t off limits.

However, you are probably wrong. Using something as innocuous as a chair could be a serious trademark infringement, and you could be attacked by a large company. 

Big businesses vs small businesses

Many large companies out there, such as Disney, Apple and McDonald’s aggressively protect their trademarks. To be fair, these companies do spend much money and resources on developing their brand, so they have to do their best to keep it unique. There is a reason they are universally known. 

You, as a small business owner on the other hand will likely not have various people such as lawyers and researchers helping you to avoid legal complications while developing your brand. And if you don’t do your own research you could end up with a letter from a company threatening legal action.

These lawsuits may not be as common as, for instance, a premises liability claim, they still cost a hefty sum to resolve, averaging at about $50,000.

Are copyright infringement lawsuits on the rise?

Copyright infringement lawsuits become a bigger problem as the world becomes more and more connected online, where businesses can be found from all over. For many businesses what they’ve copyrighted as part of their business is all they have, so they will do their very best to protect it.

For this reason, it’s very important to pay attention to this risk and take it seriously. This means it’s a good idea to get insurance that covers this. If you, for instance, receive a letter from the copyright owner, you could end up needing to hire a lawyer in response, which can end up costing you a lot more than if you had general liability insurance.

Do I really need general liability insurance?

General liability insurance is where you will most commonly find insurance coverage for copyright infringement claims, so it is the best insurance to get if protection against these claims is a concern for you, which it should be.

Fortunately general liability insurance doesn’t only cover copyright violating claims. It’s famous for being a broad insurance policy that protects your small business from a number of risks – mainly physical one. Some of these key risks include:

  • Bodily injury, at your business’ property
  • Property damage: injury to someone’s property 
  • Medical payments from accidents at your property
  • Personal liabilities: libel, slander, copyright infringement, false arrest
  • Advertising liabilities injury: losses caused by your advertising
  • Legal defense and judgement

As you can see, general liability insurance is exactly what it says in the name: general. This means it covers a huge range of things, making it very worth it, including protection against copyright infringement claims. And if you’ve paid for this protection as part of your insurance premium, you might as well use it when you need it, so don’t hesitate to.

What if I face an infringement claim?

If you face an infringement claim, it is a good idea to call your insurance agent straight away, so that you can get the right kinds of advice. The business insurance policy will be checked here, to help you navigate the claim. If the claim seems substantial, then your insurance agent may be able to help you obtain and pay for legal defense for a lawsuit, helping your business to be able to defend against the claim made.

If the claim is smaller, the agency may settle it instead, by paying a negotiated amount of settlement on your behalf. If the case ends up going to court, you may have to end up paying a much larger settlement. In cases such as this, your insurance policy might be able to help cover the amount, or at least some of it: most policies have an upper limit, often depending on how much you pay for insurance.

Is general liability insurance enough?

Many types of business insurance, particularly general liability insurance, can help in many cases of copyright infringement. However, this type of insurance can sometimes not be enough. General liability insurance plans offer minimal amounts of help. Often they do not provide enough protection in order for you to meet your needs, whether they be financial or advisory. This can be the case especially in big, serious cases where you might need to pay up a huge sum without the right protection. For this, you will need some outside help.

Minimising risks which can be problematic for you in the first place is also very important. A business needs to try and take every step possible to avoid such outcomes, and seek help immediately if something like this does happen. You never want to pay for a claim like this out of your own pocket, so always be prepared. Work with a business insurance agent through the process, to help prevent you from having to pay too much.

If you want to know more information about general liability insurance, TRUiC has a great deal of information on their website. Visit their site for more.