An estimated 21 million fully and semi-autonomous vehicles will be on the roads by 2035. This expansive new market offers incredible opportunity for both existing automotive suppliers and new, tech-based market entrants.

Dickinson Wright is uniquely connected in the autonomous-vehicle space, and we offer our clients the practical guidance necessary to navigate its increasingly complex legal landscape.

Leveraging our strong presence in the automotive industry from Detroit to Ontario and the South, as well as our strong foothold in the software and information-technology industries, our team delivers more than expert legal advice. We have the industry insight, the technical knowledge and the experience to help you drive your business forward.

Taking into account your goals, your business model, and your unique product offerings, we develop customized solutions to some of the biggest legal issues facing the autonomous-vehicle market:

Intellectual Property: In this time of game-changing disruptive technology and rapid innovation, protecting your company’s intellectual property is mission critical. Our deep bench of patent lawyers includes specialists in every major discipline, including those most relevant to connected-vehicle technology, such as electronics, communications and computer engineering.

In addition to prosecuting and protecting intellectual-property rights, the Dickinson Wright team provides overall portfolio-management advice to some of the largest suppliers in the industry. And we regularly help our clients to leverage—and even to monetize—their intellectual-property holdings.

Software and Information Technology: As vehicles have become increasingly automated, information technology has become a part of doing business in the automotive industry. At Dickinson Wright, our extensive IT client base ranges from start-ups in need of capital to international companies with significant portfolios and licensing operations.

From financing to licensing and regulatory advice, we help new tech companies enter the market. We also represent existing automotive suppliers in connection with the acquisitions and joint ventures necessary to compete in the autonomous-vehicle space.

We also help clients to navigate the complex legal and business issues surrounding free and open source software (FOSS). As much of the software developed for and by autonomous vehicle suppliers incorporates some FOSS, we recognize that our clients must weigh the advantages and the pitfalls of these activities. Relevant concerns include ensuring employee/supplier compliance, strategically identifying the IP route to pursue (open source or proprietary), and helping to establish internal compliance procedures for regulating FOSS usage.

Data Privacy and Cybersecurity: Innovations in connected-vehicle technology allow for collection of data critical to improving vehicle safety. At the same time, privacy considerations and concerns over cybersecurity are driving consumer concern, industry collaboration and regulatory change. The Dickinson Wright team monitors industry actions and the evolving regulatory framework to assist clients in addressing these issues.

Safety Regulation and Product Liability: The increased adoption of automated vehicle technologies is predicted to drastically reduce the occurrence of motor-vehicle accidents. But these technologies raise their own potential safety concerns. Emerging federal regulations, guidelines and guidance seek to address these issues, against a backdrop of varied state product-liability laws and often inconsistent liability standards. Working with each client individually, the Dickinson Wright team helps to develop comprehensive plans to maximize compliance and minimize potential liability.

Supply-Chain Disputes: Like traditional automotive suppliers, makers of autonomous-vehicle components face potential upstream and downstream contract disputes. And as vehicle technologies become more complex, so can the nature of these issues. Leveraging our deep expertise in supply-chain contracting, the Dickinson Wright team works with clients to create supplier agreements that minimize potential liability and avoid costly disputes.

Complex Litigation: Advanced driver assist systems have already given rise to litigation on a variety of fronts. Fully autonomous vehicles will follow suit. Dickinson Wright’s seasoned litigators vigorously and successfully represent clients in everything from significant patent disputes to complex, bet-the-company class actions, product-liability claims and commercial disputes. In cases of all sizes, our team is devoted to achieving optimal outcomes for our clients.