Aflac Reaches Settlement Agreement In Copyright Infringement Case Against Assurant Health
Judge rules Assurant used virtually identical policy language to that of Aflac's
COLUMBUS, Ga. – March 30, 2006 – Aflac today announced that it reached a settlement agreement ending its copyright infringement lawsuit against Assurant Inc. that charged the New York-based insurer with copying the policy language from four of Aflac's products, including two of its top sellers – accident and cancer.
Under the settlement agreement, Assurant will pay Aflac an undisclosed amount. A judgment will be entered in the Federal District Court in Atlanta ruling that (1) Aflac's policies are entitled to copyright protection, (2) Aflac has valid copyrights in them, and (3) Assurant is permanently prohibited from selling the accident and cancer policies that were deemed copied from Aflac. In a January 11 decision, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia granted Aflac's motion for a preliminary injunction, finding that Assurant engaged in copyright infringement by substantially copying protected elements from Aflac policies.
“We are pleased with the outcome of this litigation and consider the settlement agreement to be a complete victory for Aflac as well as the entire industry,” said Joey Loudermilk, Aflac executive vice president of Legal and Government Relations. “This settlement is great news as it acknowledges that the time and effort Aflac devotes to developing its policy language results in copyrightable works and reinforces the importance of fair competition within our industry.“
Aflac filed suit against Assurant on June 3, 2005 claiming infringement after noticing strong similarities between the policies during a product comparison. The suit also charged Assurant with copying language from Aflac's Hospital Confinement Indemnity and Hospital Confinement Sickness Indemnity policies. The settlement agreement requires that Assurant revise copies of these policies.
“This agreement means that Aflac can continue its focus on developing the best quality products for its policyholders,” continued Loudermilk.
For more than 50 years, Aflac products have given policyholders the opportunity to direct cash where it is needed most when a life-interrupting medical event causes financial challenges. Aflac is the number one provider of guaranteed-renewable insurance in the United States and the number one insurance company in terms of individual insurance policies in force in Japan. Aflac's insurance products provide protection to more than 40 million people worldwide. Aflac has been included in FORTUNE magazine's listing of America's Most Admired Companies for six consecutive years and Forbes magazine's Platinum 400 List of America's Best Big Companies for five consecutive years. In January 2006, Aflac was included in FORTUNE magazine's list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America for the eighth consecutive year. Aflac was also included in FORTUNE magazine's list of the Top 50 Employers for Minorities in August 2005, and in September 2005, Aflac Japan was named the Life Insurance Company of the Year at the Asia Insurance Industry Awards, sponsored by the Asia Insurance Review. Aflac Incorporated is a Fortune 500 company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AFL. To find out more about Aflac, visit aflac.com.