The economy is changing—new and emerging technologies are impacting every aspect of our lives. Consumers are increasingly moving toward digital services and goods, creating new areas for law, regulations and public policy. Akin Gump’s emerging technology practice understands that these technologies are advancing at a pace that is outstripping the ability of regulators and legislators to address them, presenting both unique opportunities and potential barriers from state, federal and international bodies.
Regardless of the emerging technology and the complexities involved, the emerging technology practice centers around innovation—the same as the clients we serve—to advance our clients’ business models, regardless of the regulatory and legislative hurdles in place. Legal, legislative and regulatory precedents in the emerging technology space are few and far between, and our team, given its familiarity with multiple vantage points, is known for creative problem-solving to advance the goals of our clients who are utilizing these technologies to maximize revenue and garner a positive return on investment. Bolstered by Akin Gump’s bipartisan public law and policy practice, comprising more than 75 lawyers and advisors, including five former members of Congress, the practice provides legal and strategic advice to innovators, inventors, manufacturers, operators and service providers in the areas of public law and policy; cybersecurity, privacy and data protection; international trade; intellectual property; private equity; mergers and acquisitions; and litigation.
From e-commerce to online travel, digital publishing and massive online open courses, most Americans are visiting sites on the so-called “platform economy” on a daily basis. Meanwhile, consumers are increasingly looking to the sharing economy not only for competitive pricing and a wider variety of offerings, but also to supplement their own income. Major corporations are seeking to use unmanned aerial systems (UAS) technology to deliver goods, inspect critical infrastructure and create efficiencies in supply chain management, along with countless other applications that will create efficiencies and boost bottom lines.
These new sectors of the digital economy raise regulatory and policy questions surrounding taxes; data collection; privacy; Internet governance; regulatory jurisdiction; antitrust and competition; and intellectual property, copyright and consumer protection, to name a few.
Unmanned Aerial Systems
The cornerstone of Akin Gump’s emerging technologies practice is our groundbreaking work in UAS law and policy. The Akin Gump team pioneered the concept of a UAS public policy and regulatory team in Washington, D.C., and formed the Small UAV Coalition, the first association focused exclusively on commercial UAS. The coalition is the leading voice for industry in advocating for changes in law and policy essential to industry growth.
Building upon its success in the United States, the Akin Gump team has replicated the Small UAV Coalition model overseas in forming Drone Alliance Europe. The Alliance advocates for policies critical to the safe and widespread integration of UAS technology across Europe.
Akin Gump’s capabilities in the UAS space are growing to meet the demands of a robust list of domestic and international clients. These clients are excited about expanding their business models and increasing their economic prosperity through UAS, but remain anxious about existing aviation- and transportation-related laws governing UAS, as well as emerging laws and regulations. Additionally, as UAS increasingly enter the marketplace, additional legal services, especially those involving intellectual property, cybersecurity and international trade, among others, are in demand. The hallmark of our cross-disciplinary team is our ability to approach new hurdles in this uncharted space innovatively, utilizing our team’s legal, policy and regulatory capabilities from practices and offices around the firm.