Members of Akin Gump’s Autonomous Vehicle Team Discuss Industry’s Future with MCC

For its article “Autonomous Vehicles Arrive,” Metropolitan Corporate Counsel spoke with Akin Gump litigation partners Susan Lent and Natasha Kohne and intellectual property partner Kevin Cadwell, who are leading the firm’s efforts “to anticipate and shape the changing regulatory and legal landscapes” pertaining to autonomous cars. The three discussed a variety of topics, including the following:

Ensuring that the clients involved with autonomous and connected vehicles derive maximum value from multidisciplinary representation.

  • Lent: “We focus on collaboration across practice groups in all areas, not just autonomous vehicles (AVs). However, it is particularly important in this emerging area because there are so many issues for clients to consider. Our strength is being able to offer our clients a one-stop set of solutions.”
  • Kohne: “The needs of AV companies really fall within our cross-practice initiative where we all get to work together in our different areas of expertise to provide innovative and targeted services to these special clients.”

Whether the market will adopt standardized technology, similar to the mobile phone industry, to ensure smooth communication among connected cars and between connected cars and their environment.

  • Cadwell: “I believe we will see standards and protocols, and that we have to. The mobile phone industry is a great example. … This is the next derivation of that, and it really has to happen in order to facilitate smooth connectivity.”

The opportunities, risks and challenges associated with the development and deployment of an AV-friendly infrastructure.

  • Lent: “Cities are going to have to make a number of improvements, including installation of traffic signals and sensors to communicate with the autonomous vehicles and better pavement markings.” It will require “a certain level of investment by state and local governments.”
  • Kohne: “Experts are just beginning to define what the true risks and challenges are with regard to integrating autonomous vehicles into our lived environments. … I think that the AV community should try to demonstrate a beneficial impact to traffic patterns and urban congestion. This is something public leaders will be watching carefully as autonomous technology is integrated into our transportation networks.”

The legal and business issues clients are confronting, including ownership and sharing of core IP assets.

  • Cadwell: “So as far as AV goes, challenge number one is going to be the business and relational aspect, because there are industries that up till now haven’t truly collaborated. … As far as ownership and the sharing of core ideas, I think we’re going to start seeing a whole lot of licensing issues if we get into the standards and start having standard-essential patents. We’re going to start having brand issues and questions about the real value of the intellectual property as compared to the value of the car overall.”

To read the full article, please click here.