Navigating Connected Cars in 2017

08 December 2016 Dashboard Insights Blog
Author(s): Pavan K. Agarwal Chanley T. Howell

It’s a fact: today’s marketplace has given connected cars the green light. As an OEM or supplier accelerating to create products to meet industry demand, what challenges can you anticipate in 2017? Here’s one area we think you should be focused on…

IP Protection

Perhaps the most valuable asset for companies in advanced technology areas is the protection and defense of the company’s intellectual property. As technologies for connected cars and autonomous vehicle develop, manufacturers are highly concerned about protecting their intellectual property. Questions of who owns the IP, keeping it safe and preventing IP theft can certainly keep one up at night. Here are our top 3 tips for protecting your IP in 2017:

  1. Have clear company guidelines for capturing IP and deciding the form of protection for it, whether through patent rights, trade secret rights, copyright rights, or the like. The particular mechanisms for keeping the IP safe depend on the form of protection chosen. For example, the company will want to file patent applications as early as possible for patent protection. The company instead may choose trade secret protection, including to take advantage of the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016, a newly enacted statute providing for a federal civil cause of action for misappropriation and theft of trade secrets. In that case, the company will want to put in place protectionary measures to carefully guard the confidentiality of trade secrets.
  2. Obtain IP ownership when your company is involved in joint collaborations. Many advances in connected cars and autonomous vehicles are made through joint collaborations. The transactional agreements need to address the ownership of IP that emerges from such development efforts, and how to handle further technology improvements based on that IP made by either company. While joint ownership is often an option, it creates special challenges and complexities associated with two or more companies having the right to exploit the IP. A related corollary is the freedom for each company to use that IP outside of the joint collaboration, e.g., when developing products with another party.
  3. Defend against attacks on the company’s products. The disruptive technology of connected cars and autonomous vehicles integrates many technical areas, even more than the technology integration of the computer and cell phone industries in the past decade. Patent holders are finding potential targets in many places, such as computer-hardware or software based or connectivity-based just to name a couple. Companies that face cease and desist letters or lawsuits can use strategies tailored to the situation to defend their product offerings, whether through negotiation, filing certain types of motions in court, or proceedings at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to challenge the patents.

For More Information

Of course we believe these tips will help you navigate the IP landscape/data protection in 2017; however, this isn’t a comprehensive list – keeping your IP safe is much more complicated. So we invite you to join us and other industry experts as we further address these topics at Foley’s program titled “Connected Cars: Navigating Top Trends in 2017,” held in Detroit on January 11, 2017.

For additional information on the program and to register, visit

This blog is made available by Foley & Lardner LLP (“Foley” or “the Firm”) for informational purposes only. It is not meant to convey the Firm’s legal position on behalf of any client, nor is it intended to convey specific legal advice. Any opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Foley & Lardner LLP, its partners, or its clients. Accordingly, do not act upon this information without seeking counsel from a licensed attorney. This blog is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Communicating with Foley through this website by email, blog post, or otherwise, does not create an attorney-client relationship for any legal matter. Therefore, any communication or material you transmit to Foley through this blog, whether by email, blog post or any other manner, will not be treated as confidential or proprietary. The information on this blog is published “AS IS” and is not guaranteed to be complete, accurate, and or up-to-date. Foley makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, as to the operation or content of the site. Foley expressly disclaims all other guarantees, warranties, conditions and representations of any kind, either express or implied, whether arising under any statute, law, commercial use or otherwise, including implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Foley or any of its partners, officers, employees, agents or affiliates be liable, directly or indirectly, under any theory of law (contract, tort, negligence or otherwise), to you or anyone else, for any claims, losses or damages, direct, indirect special, incidental, punitive or consequential, resulting from or occasioned by the creation, use of or reliance on this site (including information and other content) or any third party websites or the information, resources or material accessed through any such websites. In some jurisdictions, the contents of this blog may be considered Attorney Advertising. If applicable, please note that prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Photographs are for dramatization purposes only and may include models. Likenesses do not necessarily imply current client, partnership or employee status.

Related Services