Copyright Infringement

On March 22, 2019, a federal judge in Michigan found in Alticor Global Holdings, Inc. v. America Int’l Specialty Lines Ins. Co., that claims of copyright infringement by several major record labels are potentially covered under liability policies issued by AIG.  Alticor involved a claim for coverage stemming from suits by a group of entertainment companies against Amway, “accusing it of infringing hundreds of copyrighted sound recordings.”  Amway sought coverage from its umbrella insurer, AIG.  AIG claimed that the personal injury and advertising injury coverage did not apply because “coverage extends only to advertisements of a Named Insured,” i.e., Amway, and the underlying suit related to advertisements of Amway independent business owners.

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In a decision of import to businesses facing intellectual property infringement lawsuits, the Southern District of Florida has ruled that a commercial general liability policy’s “knowing violation” and “infringement” exclusions do not apply to lawsuits involving allegations of intent and knowledge in the context of advertising injury. E.S.Y., Inc., et al. v. Scottsdale Insurance Company, No. 15-21349 (S.D. Fla. October 14, 2015) (“E.S.Y.”).

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