One way for insurers and reinsurers to generate more value may be to get more out of the intellectual property they already control.
Speakers gave that assessment here at a panel discussion organized by FTI Consulting Inc., New York.
“There may be additional money on the table from these assets,” Scott Weingust, an FTI director, said during the session.
Elizabeth Pearce, a director in the intellectual property group at American International Group Inc., New York, talked about an executive who went from one reinsurer to another, then returned to the first reinsurer because he thought the software at the second reinsurer was worse.
When the executive returned to the first reinsurer, he recommended that the company license its proprietary software to other users, Pearce said.
The motive was as much to build market share as to generate revenue, Pearce said.
Efforts to introduce new types of products, such as new types of annuities, could lead to an increase in life insurers’ efforts to market their software to other users, Pearce said.
Insurers may not think they have intellectual property that can be patented and licensed, but, even if the software simply relies on a new variation on a general idea, the software might be patentable, Pearce said.
When a company contracts with a vendor for software, it must work out “who owns the IP that came about from the deal that you paid for,” said Michael Bednarek, a partner with Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker L.L.P., Washington.
Clarifying the intellectual property issues is important, because many vendors plan to keep the intellectual property rights, so that they can sell the same software systems they create for one client to other clients, Bednarek said.
Human relations is another concern.
Pearce noted that AIG has created events to honor the inventors in the company and to give them access to company managers.
Both recognition and access can spur innovation, Pearce said.