Within a decade, analysts say, the “Internet of Things” will have transformed our lives. Billions of Internet-connected devices will monitor our homes, businesses, cars, and even our bodies, using the data to manage everything from appliances to heart monitors. Companies like Google— which recently paid $3.2 billion for smart-thermostat company Nest Labs—are already racing to build the IoT. But businesses face fundamental questions regarding the ownership of data, protecting customer privacy, liability when devices fail, and more.
Issue Discusses Legal Impact of Unmanned Drones on Commercial Airspace
Drones, corporate takeovers, incubators, and even agricultural espionage. Those are just a few of the topics leaping off the pages of the new issue of MoFo Tech, the award-winning magazine on legal trends in technology and life sciences produced by law firm Morrison & Foerster.
The cover story for the latest MoFo Tech examines the ramifications of widespread commercial drone use in the United States. Amazon made news last year when it revealed an early-stage drone-delivery system was in the works, and experts say the commercial drones could become an $82 billion industry by 2025.
MoFo partner Bill O’Connor, who heads the firm’s UAS/Drones Working Group, cautions that if the US doesn’t issue specific usage regulations, drone manufacturers could move their business overseas to countries and regions with more guidance. Concrete state and federal regulations, as well as the application of existing tort and criminal law to drone use, are needed to address concerns about public safety and individual privacy.
Since 2009 MoFo Tech has been the only magazine exploring the intersection of law with technology and life sciences. Written by professional business and tech journalists, it has won the Content Council’s Pearl Award five years in a row and was named “Best New Magazine” in its class. Its global readership surpasses 10,000, reaching primarily C-level executives and general counsel at many of the country’s top tech and life sciences companies.
“MoFo Tech offers unique content on the technology industry, combining top-flight journalism with expert legal analysis. I’m not aware of a comparable editorial offering that expressly looks at business news, policy, regulation, and legal trends, alongside feature stories, infographics, and interviews with leading tech innovators,” said Tessa Schwartz, co-chair of Morrison & Foerster’s Technology Transactions practice, who acts as co-managing editor for the magazine. “We are excited to offer a refreshed design, along with an outstanding team of contributors, terrific graphics, and insightful commentary from our industry-leading team of attorneys.”
Also in the new MoFo Tech:
- Wildly unpredictable so-called FRAND license payments – based on Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory determinations – can have big implications for patent holders and licensees. MoFo Tech offers an intriguing infographic outlining big discrepancies in payments made across a variety of recent patent lawsuits involving Wi-Fi chips.
- Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group CTO Sam Sahana discusses how he is revolutionizing the switch to digital film through private investments and innovative viewer experiences.
- An interview with Evan Burfield and Donna Harris, co-founders of Washington, D.C.-based incubator 1776, on bringing tech startups together with the capital’s power players, and the critical importance of mentoring.
- “Share and Share Alike” analyzes the recent promise by electric car company Tesla that it will not sue over its patent-protected technology, the latest in a series of moves by tech companies making their patents public. These non-assertion pledges are designed to spur innovation and open markets, but MoFo’s Billy Schwartz, part of the Technology Transactions Group, says that many of the related legal issues (such as whether pledges still hold after transfer or sale of patents) have yet to be resolved – or even come to light.
- Plant breeders need to beware of agricultural espionage: “A pound of seeds for certain tomato varieties is worth more than a pound of gold,” says MoFo partner Rachel Krevans, chair of the IP Litigation Practice Group, in a news story about safeguarding intellectual property assets down on the farm.
Follow MoFo Tech on Twitter: @MoFoTech.
Mobile payments are taking off, and by 2017, consumers worldwide are likely to be using the technology to spend $700 billion or more annually, according to Forrester Research. But as technology companies look for ways to participate in that growth, they may find risks that they haven’t anticipated.
“This is an evolving field, and there is currently no new mobile-specific regulatory framework addressing mobile payments,” says Obrea Poindexter, a partner at Morrison & Foerster who leads the firm’s Mobile Payments Group. Instead, mobile payments in the U.S. fall under a variety of regulators, such as the Treasury Department, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission, which can make compliance complicated. At the same time, the mobile payments infrastructure typically involves an ecosystem of partners, such as financial institutions, payment card networks, merchants, and technology companies. This web of partnerships can blur the lines between companies, which in turn can lead to increased exposure for technology companies. Continue Reading
Charles Duross is the head of Morrison & Foerster’s Global Anti-Corruption Practice. He is the former head of the Department of Justice’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act unit, where he took a leading role in developing and implementing the government’s anti-bribery enforcement strategy. Here, he discusses how tech companies can avoid violating the FCPA.
We have been hearing about more companies running into problems related to the FCPA. Is this an increasing risk?
I don’t think bribery per se is increasing, but the risk of getting caught if you’re paying bribes is. The Department of Justice has been strengthening its FCPA enforcement for years. But at the same time, many countries are now part of the OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] Anti-Bribery Convention, and have created their own laws that are very much like the FCPA. Forty countries have signed on, the most recent one being Russia. The OECD’s Working Group on Bribery actively monitors enforcement of these laws, and there is a great deal of cooperation among countries about corruption cases. So enforcement is increasing— and not just by the U.S. government. Continue Reading
With it spending up, federal agencies are finding they need to look outside their walls for qualified talent. This is presenting new public sector opportunities for private sector tech companies.
The U.S. federal government collects massive amounts of data. Everything from citizens’ health care information, details about nuclear power plants, and data on the U.S. electrical grid are gathered every day. With most agencies migrating to a cloud-based solution, securing the data and breaking it into manageable units has become a high federal government priority.
As a result, the 2014 Federal Budget allocates $75.9 billion to IT spending, and many federal agencies are continuing to turn to private companies for additional support to meet the demand. This presents private companies with a tremendous opportunity to gain new clients and contracts within various federal agencies.
“This is an area of the government that has been as affected by sequestration and reduced spending as other areas,” says Brad Wine, a partner in the Washington D.C. office of Morrison & Foerster. “Once a company is able to get its first government contract, especially with Homeland Security or one of the other three letter agencies and overcome barriers to entry in the federal sector, IT contracts generally and cybersecurity projects for the government in particular become a very lucrative area.” Continue Reading