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Unmanned Vehicle Systems

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OVERVIEW

Unmanned vehicle systems (UVS) are poised to revolutionize modern life and commerce, and Perkins Coie is part of that revolution.  We handle complex matters and business issues for companies designing, building and using unmanned aircraft and other unmanned vehicles.

Perkins Coie advises, counsels and represents UVS industry clients, from startup manufacturers of unmanned vehicles to major corporations expanding into the UVS industry, in such areas as:

  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Intellectual Property Protection and Enforcement
  • Licensing and Monetization
  • Corporate Governance
  • Privacy and Security
  • Risk Management
  • Product Liability and Personal Injury
  • Litigation
  • Government Relations
  • Supply Chain Issues
  • Insurance Recovery

Focused on Innovation, Experienced Working with Startups

Technological innovations are the lifeblood of the UVS industry, and Perkins Coie advises corporations, inventors, entrepreneurs and innovators on intellectual property law relevant to the protection of their vital IP assets.  

Startups and emerging companies form a large portion of the UVS industry.  We provide newly established businesses with practical, strategic advice on overcoming challenges at all stages of growth, from incorporation to monetization and exit.  Perkins Coie attorneys have handled thousands of venture financings and have significant experience with private debt and equity financing transactions for emerging company clients.

Internationally Recognized Team Committed to the UVS Industry

Perkins Coie represents emerging companies and large public technology companies across diverse industry sectors, including aerospace, robotics, semiconductors, software and electronics.  We are internationally recognized in many of the areas where we represent our UVS industry clients.  Our practice recognitions include:

  • Ranked Band 1 in Aviation Litigation, Chambers USA (2009–2015)
  • Named Venture Capital “Law Firm of the Year” for two consecutive years, U.S. News – Best Lawyers® (2011–2012, 2012–2013)
  • Named Patent “Law Firm of the Year” for two consecutive years (2012–2013, 2013–2014) and ranked National Tier 1 in IP Litigation (2013–2014), U.S. News – Best Lawyers®
  • Named Privacy “Practice Group of the Year,” Law360 (2013)
  • Recommended for Product Liability and Mass Tort Defense: Aerospace/Aviation, The Legal 500 (2009–2013)

As governmental and commercial applications of unmanned aerial vehicles and other UVS continue their revolutionary trajectory, Perkins Coie commits itself to the growth and protection of the companies and people in the industry.  We monitor technological and regulatory developments and participate in meetings and forums focused on the evolving technology and expanding marketplace for unmanned vehicle systems.

Perkins Coie provides UVS clients with guidance on the full range of legal issues they face in:

Regulatory Compliance

UVS companies confront a rapidly changing regulatory environment.  Perkins Coie’s expertise helps companies navigate regulations promulgated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, as well as state and local authorities.  We also have experience preparing Section 333 exemption petitions for commercial UVS operations.

Patent and Intellectual Property Protection

We are known for the technical background of our intellectual property law attorneys.  Many of our UVS team members have backgrounds in computer science, electronics, aerospace and aeronautical and astronautical engineering.  Several of our attorneys have examined patent applications in the field of aeronautics and astronautics at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and some are licensed pilots as well. 

To support the patent prosecution and litigation needs of our clients, we have more than 100 patent litigators who collaborate with our patent prosecution team.  We advocate for clients through the entire litigation process—from preliminary injunction hearings, Markman hearings and ITC litigation to jury and bench trials nationwide.  Our attorneys have served as first-chair trial leads and litigated patent claims in over 50 jurisdictions throughout the United States.  

Licensing and Monetization

Commercialization of technology is a major focus for our more than 50 IP licensing attorneys.  We concentrate on structuring, negotiating and documenting a wide variety of arrangements to acquire, develop, protect and distribute technologies, both domestically and internationally.

Privacy Compliance 

With the advent of drones and the UVS industry comes a rise in privacy-related concerns.  To help clients navigate these emerging challenges, Perkins Coie has assembled an interdisciplinary privacy and security team, which includes litigators, transactional attorneys and public policy and regulatory lawyers.

We have substantial experience in handling privacy litigation, including defending class action lawsuits and government enforcement actions.  We also have developed privacy and security policies, implemented fair information practices and executed privacy and security audits.

Product Liability and Risk Management

As UVS companies innovate technologies and integrate them into operations, they must also address the risks of personal injury lawsuits.  Perkins Coie provides product liability counseling to help clients minimize risk.  We offer customized workshops that provide employee education.  We also counsel clients on risk analysis and provide guidance on the development of product warnings.  If personal injury claims arise, we represent clients in government investigations and vigorously defend them in lawsuits.  

Our vast product liability experience includes a strong focus on aviation.  Our aviation and aerospace group, which has been ranked in Band 1 by Chambers USA in aviation litigation since 2009, represents leading aerospace and aviation companies, such as The Boeing Company and Honeywell Aerospace, in high-profile, high-stakes matters, including major airline disasters and satellite losses. 

Insurance Recovery

Attorneys in our nationally recognized Insurance Recovery practice advise clients on all kinds of insurance, including product and general liability, directors and officers, property and business interruption, employment practices and crime coverage. We advise policyholders how to structure and place insurance for current and emerging risks; to make claims and enforce their insurance coverage and pursue disputed claims to verdict or an award in arbitration. We have succeeded in recovering billions of dollars in insurance recoveries for our clients.

Contact Us

The Unmanned Vehicle Systems team works with numerous practices and industries. For more information about a specific area of focus, please contact the attorneys listed below.

 Area of Focus

 Contacts

Regulatory Compliance

Brendan Murphy and Kate Reddy

Patent and Intellectual Property Protection

John Wechkin and Rajiv Sarathy

Licensing and Monetization

John Wechkin

Privacy Compliance

John Roche and Jim McCullagh

Product Liability and Risk Management

Brendan Murphy and Dan Ridlon

Emerging Companies

Buddy Arnheim

Insurance Recovery

Lorie Masters

EXPERIENCE

NEWS

PUBLICATIONS & PRESENTATIONS

Image of unmanned vehicle system
Commercial UAVS and How to Be Legal

Are you using your drone legally? Rules governing the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) industry are evolving, making it easy to unintentionally be on the wrong side of the law. In our drone-shot video, we highlight some current regulations and permits in effect once your drone crosses from personal use to commercial.

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