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    Insurance and E-insurance companies Avoiding Infringement

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    Masters Level
    For the specific industries/companies you have chosen for your research (insurance companies with particular attention E-insurance), discuss what that industry/company can do to avoid infringing on the intellectual property of others? What steps should a company take to prevent accidental or intentional infringement on others? What are the possible consequences of infringement?

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    What can insurance and/or E-insurance companies do to avoid infringing on the intellectual property of others?

    General Guideline:
    ? To avoid infringing on intellectual property rights of other, always check with the United States Copyright Office before reproducing any materials.
    ? If the material is registered, contact the originator and ask for permission in an agreement form or request a license to reproduce the material (this is applicable to web sites dealing with the entertainment field).

    Specific to the insurance industry:
    ? Case law in the United States has adhered to previous courts' rulings on what copyright laws protect. In a 1938 10th Circuit Court of Appeals case, Dorsey v. Old Surety Life Insurance Co., the federal judge ruled that "[t]he right secured by a copyright is not the right to the use of certain words, nor the right to employ ideas expressed thereby. Rather it is the right to that arrangement of words which the author has selected to express his ideas." (FN1)
    ? The Dorsey case involved Mr. Dorsey who wrote three types of insurance policies. He sued Old Surely Life Insurance Co. for infringement of copyright laws.
    ? Applying this general definition on what copyright laws protect, specific to the insurance industry, the court in the Dorsey case explicitly held that the insurance company did not infringe copyright laws when they used the insurance plans. What was protected was the "use or copying of the means of expression selected by Dorsey to the extent that such means were original with Dorsey." (FN2)
    ? In a later case, Continental Casualty Co. v. Beardsley, the courts expressed their distaste for copyright violations in insurance cases unless there is a "striking" or "substantial similarity" between policies. The rational for such a distaste is expressed by the court in this New York case, that "[a]ll the words and expressions are commonplace within the insurance field" and, thus, "what might be called a paraphrase and plagiarism in another work, is significantly different for the purposes of comparing two insurance policies." (FN3)
    ? However, a recent decision in a Georgia case, American Family Life Insurance Co. of Columbus (AFLAC) v. Assurant, Inc., No. 1:05-CV-1462-BBM, may have reversed case history regarding insurance policies. In this case, suggestions of how to protect the insurance company from infringement is quite clear in the event that case law reverses.
    ? This case involved plaintiff, AFLAC, who spent months developing new policies in a "narrative style" to make it laymen friendly. Defendant, Assurant, Inc. copied verbatim some of the draft policies that plaintiff developed. It was brought out in court that the defendant hired two former AFLC employees to develop their supplemental policies.
    ? The Georgia court ruled for the plaintiff, AFLAC.
    1. The court was not convinced by the defendant's argument that AFLAC's supplemental policies were not original, only discretionary changes on old policies. The court ruled that AFLAC modified policies are derivative work policies which meets the definition of "originality."

    2. The definition of "derivative work" pursuant to Title 17 USC Sec. 101 states:
    A "derivative work" is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, ...

    Solution Summary

    This is a 2,113 word document describing what insurance and e-insurance companies can do to avoid infringing on the intellectual property rights of others. It cites case law and discusses possible consequences when infringement occurs and what the remedies are.