From artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to autonomous vehicles, virtual reality, and cryptocurrency, the rapid evolution of technology shows no sign of slowing down. Companies in the digital technology sector are among the world’s most highly valued companies, with good reason. And businesses in every sector now use digital technology in all kinds of ways, from basic email to sophisticated data analytics.
This dynamic digital world presents seemingly endless opportunities—but pushing technological boundaries inevitably involves unique legal challenges and risks. Michael Best’s Digital Technology team understands the obstacles and opportunities faced by technology companies and other businesses at every stage of growth. We help clients protect their valuable technologies, keep ahead in a competitive market, and stay in compliance as regulations change.
Our cross-practice team has the right mix of experience to provide counsel on the full spectrum of legal needs surrounding new technologies and new ways of doing business. We help clients in a variety of industries deal with complex intellectual property, tax, transactional, litigation, data privacy and security, and regulatory issues. Recognizing the need to use technology responsibly, we counsel clients at the earliest stages of their decision-making processes and closely monitor emerging law.
Many of our technology lawyers and professionals have advanced technical degrees and business experience in computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, and other high-tech fields. Our experience gives us a deep, industry-specific understanding of our clients’ businesses and technologies, from the inside out.
Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
AI and machine learning—once the province of science fiction—are fast becoming an everyday reality. Many of our clients are working to either develop or implement these revolutionary technologies, and we assist them on both fronts. For providers as well as purchasers of AI, we advise on crucial issues such as data ownership, privacy and data security, intellectual property protection, and government relations. We have considerable experience with patents in this nascent area, and our team is doing a variety of work related to autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles.
Blockchain & Digital Currency
As distributed ledger technology (DLT) and smart contracts proliferate, and digital currencies go mainstream, we help clients prepare for the future. It’s an ongoing mission. Our team advises clients as they create, develop, adopt, and invest in technologies and navigate through the regulatory landscape of blockchain and DLT. Whether it’s protecting intellectual property, establishing a blockchain start-up, accepting bitcoin payments, or launching an initial coin offering, we have the technical and legal experience to help you take full advantage of DLT’s vast potential.
Computer, Software, & Electrical
Our experience with computer, software, and electrical technologies includes:
- Productivity software such as electronic messaging solutions, word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software
- Semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicle systems and software and other unmanned vehicles
- Financial services technology
- Image capture, processing, and storage systems
- Information technology and cloud computing systems
- Wireless communication devices, systems, networks, and software
- Medical devices and diagnostic systems
- Semiconductors and semiconductor devices
- Sensor and transducer technologies
- Virtual and augmented reality systems and software
- Embedded software and control systems
- Power tool control systems
- Batteries, battery management, and other energy storage systems
- Electric and hybrid powertrain systems and controls
The financial services sector is undergoing a technology revolution all its own. We provide tech-savvy counsel to financial technology companies at all stages, from launching a fintech start-up to developing potentially disruptive new services and technologies. In addition to companies that create fintech, we work with clients in the financial sector and other industries who invest in and use a wide range of financial service technologies. We have experience with fintech in areas such as: investment trading, consumer finance, insurance, accounting, online and mobile payments, distributed ledger technology, digital currencies, and more.
Corporate & Transactional
We provide technology clients with strategic legal counsel covering the entire business life cycle—from organization, financing, and operation through mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures. Our Corporate & Transactional group represents clients in matters such as corporate formation and governance, contract negotiations, sale and purchase of assets, deal structuring, tax planning, strategic partnerships and joint ventures, commercial agreements, and dispute resolution. We also assist clients in various industries with complex financing and transactions involving software, hardware, and other technologies. We protect our clients’ interests in everything from a fintech start-up investment to the acquisition of an enterprise resource planning system.
Within a larger group of more than 140 lawyers and IP professionals, Michael Best has a group of more than 25 professionals who focus on intellectual property protection for technologies in the computer, software, and electrical arts. These professionals hold degrees in electrical and computer sciences, and many worked in an engineering capacity prior to entering the legal field. We counsel clients across industries with respect to procuring, enforcing, and defending against patents covering computer and information technologies. We work with some of the world’s most respected technology companies, and those companies rely on our team for patent portfolio management, patent licensing and enforcement, invention harvesting, and patent application preparation and prosecution. The decision to seek patent protection requires balancing numerous factors, which our experienced professionals know how to evaluate. When patent protection is advisable, we know how to draft patent applications to meet eligibility requirements. And we know how to skillfully enforce our clients’ patents and defend against infringement allegations. As part of our comprehensive approach, we often develop a customized strategic blend of trade secret, copyright, patent, and other IP protection for our clients, based on each client’s specific technology area and business goals.
Licensing & Technology Agreements
A significant part of our Intellectual Property practice is helping clients capitalize on technology and IP assets through licensing, joint development, and other strategic alliances. We handle many matters involving trade secrets and technology agreements or licenses, such as patent licenses, software licenses and implementation agreements, content agreements, and telecommunications contracts. Our services include: inbound and outbound patent and technology agreements, technology joint venture and partnering agreements, technology development agreements, manufacturing and supply agreements, university and federal lab collaborations, non-disclosure and material transfer agreements, and IP asset acquisition and disposition agreements. In the software and information technology fields, we counsel clients on licenses, contracts, and terms and conditions for software, software as a service (SaaS) and other cloud services, mobile apps, and websites. We understand information technology, and we have extensive experience representing both buyers and vendors in software and IT service transactions, as well as in litigation.
Privacy & Cybersecurity
Privacy and cybersecurity issues touch almost every business, regardless of industry. There’s been unprecedented global growth in regulations and concerns relating to privacy and cybersecurity—and in technologies, such as smart connected devices, that are capable of collecting, analyzing, and sharing data. As organizations learn how to advance their businesses against this complex backdrop and to use AI, big data, and the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to their advantage, they must be increasingly vigilant in protecting the information in their custody and complying with regulations. Our multi-disciplinary team advises clients on how privacy and cybersecurity laws interact with other areas of law, such as employment law and consumer law, and with industry-specific regulations. We help companies manage and leverage data while complying with complex regulatory schemes at the state, federal, and international levels.
Regulatory/Michael Best Strategies
Innovations such as AI and cryptocurrency have been heavily scrutinized, and often inconsistently treated, by regulators. Sometimes things change so quickly that even the government regulators aren’t sure which rules apply. Michael Best’s combined experience in technology, law, and government relations enables us to help clients keep up with—and even stay ahead of—the rapidly changing regulations governing the technology sector. As a full-service firm with a large IP practice, we are particularly well equipped to represent clients in a variety of technology-related regulatory matters across all our practice areas and industry groups. For clients interested in policymaking, we also collaborate with Michael Best Strategies, our dedicated business consulting, government relations, and public affairs affiliate.