Insurance To Catch A Thief

A patent won't stop theft of your invention if you can't afford to enforce it, and since 1993 the median cost of a patent suit has doubled to more than $1 million. Two insurers offer policies to help stop patent thieves. Intellectual Property Insurance Services Corp.'s premiums start at $1,932 per patent for 75% of legal bills, up to $500,000. If you win, IPISC (502 429-8007) gets back 125% of what it laid out. Most common use? Small companies suing midsize ones. Since February, a policy from Litigation Risk Management Inc. (713 661-3454) will cover 80% of the costs to enforce a family of patents, but annual premiums are around $25,000. LRM also will cover the patent version of a pre-existing condition--a theft you have already discovered. The patent holder must first try to cut a deal with the offender, but the policy covers 80% of legal costs if no pact is reached. LRM recoups its outlay plus 5% to 40% of that sum if you win.