Publishers must prepare for a potential surge in copyright claims, following the legal battle over The Da Vinci Code story line, Markel International has warned.

Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent are claiming The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown plagiarised their "work of historical conjecture", The The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, and are suing publishers Random House for £10m in compensation.

If they are successful, the two are also set to sue Brown for a share of his royalties.

Markel International said the court case would lead to the "clarification of copyright law" and that companies within the media sector which did not act now to protect themselves, could face "large-scale" claims.

Ros Breese, a PI indmenity underwriter for Markel, said: "Publishers usually insure against such intellectual property right breaches with a media liability insurance policy. This case could mean a very sizeable claim against Random House because, in addition to considerable legal costs, any damages could be decided on a share of profit basis."