Issue: Jun 2016


Focus on V2V communication systems



by John Larkin

A new network of organisations is needed to support the rollout of the connected car. In parallel to solving the technical challenges of connecting vehicles the industry and authorities have to create a supporting physical and legal infrastructure.

In the United States one of the entities involved in this effort is the non-profit Connected Vehicle Trade Association (CVTA). Members include corporations, public entities, standards and specification organizations and educational institutions. The organization nurtures consensus among those who build, validate and operate the systems and infrastructure.

CVTA’s newly-elected Chairman is Paul M. Laurenza, Office Managing Member of law firm Dykema’s Washington, D.C. office and a member of the firm’s Automotive Industry Group. Laurenza heads Dykema’s motor vehicle and consumer product safety federal regulatory practices, and previously held the position of Vice Chair for the CVTA. He has served on its board of directors since 2007.

Dykema says it is considered a “go-to” firm to protect intellectual property. “Dykema IP attorneys deliver solutions that safeguard or enforce the intellectual property rights of our automotive industry clients, as well as assisting them in unearthing value in their patent portfolios through valuations and other strategies,” says the firm.

Automotive Industries (AI) asked Laurenza to explain the distinction between the connected vehicle and the automated vehicle.

Laurenza: The connected vehicle and automated vehicle are separate and distinct concepts. The automated vehicle (including the self-driving vehicle) uses in-vehicle systems to assist in collision avoidance. The connected vehicle uses real-time wireless communications across a secure network to communicate safety and other information between or among vehicles (V2V), between vehicles and infrastructure (V2I), or between vehicles and mobile devices. Therefore, the connected vehicle operates in a cooperative communications environment and, ideally, would substantially expand the physical safety “envelope” beyond the capabilities of single in-vehicle automated systems. Thus viewed, the connected and automated vehicles are complementary – but distinct - safety concepts.

AI: What are some of the recent major policy and legal changes that have been made that impact the connected car?

Laurenza: In August 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), the first step in the administrative rulemaking process. As the next step NHTSA was expected to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) last fall, but issuance is now expected sometime this spring or summer. When that occurs, NHTSA will review all comments – which will be substantial – and subsequently issue a final rule, which can be subject to reconsideration. Presumably, manufacturers will have a lead time to meet the requirements of any final rule. Actual implementation of the final rule may not occur until late in this decade, despite NHTSA’s efforts to move this rulemaking forward at an accelerated pace.

AI: How do companies who are building connected cars or providing systems for them, factor in issues like privacy?

Laurenza: Although security and privacy are interrelated, it’s important to distinguish the two. Issues of privacy and data ownership exist with any data collection system, including with devices such as Event Data Recorders in current vehicles. For the most part, these issues in the U.S. are addressed by state laws. Security raises broader issues because of the need to protect the system from external unwanted access – “hacking” being one noteworthy example. Security is particularly important with connected vehicles because they are part of a networked system, so security of the network (e.g., who has access and under what conditions) will have to be addressed through regulation or otherwise for the system to be secure and reliable.

AI: What are some of the major implications of connected cars on infrastructure, and how does the latter need to be revamped to take into account new technologies?

Laurenza: NHTSA’s ongoing rulemaking focus is solely on V2V systems. Initially, the government was focusing more or less in parallel on V2V and V2I, but it became obvious early on that V2I will involve substantial costs of building roadside infrastructure to support connected vehicles. NHTSA is moving forward on V2I, but it is not part of the current rulemaking effort. Some V2I efforts that are being undertaken - for example, traffic signal switching to accommodate emergency vehicles - rely on existing local government roadway infrastructure.

AI: What legal recourse do different technology providers have to protect their know-how in connected cars?

Laurenza: Intellectual property in on-board equipment (OBE) is subject to the same protection as is applicable to IP in other types of automotive equipment. Companies will seek to protect their IP both through the patent process as well as through contractual agreements with their suppliers, customers, or third parties.

AI: What expertise does Dykema have in respect of protecting patents internationally?

Laurenza: More than a decade ago, Dykema began representing a consortium of major global automakers engaged with the U.S. Department of Transportation to perform various preliminary assessments of the feasibility of development and deployment of connected vehicle systems, both V2V and V2I. Our work examining the legal and policy implications of both connected vehicles and automated vehicles is a logical outgrowth of our firm’s extensive background and experience in motor vehicle safety over many years.

At Dykema, Laurenza represents motor vehicle manufacturers, original and aftermarket equipment suppliers and consumer product manufacturers and distributors on a broad range of safety and related issues. He has written and lectured extensively on motor vehicle and consumer product safety issues.

Detroit-based Dykema has been partnering with its automotive industry clients since the first automobiles rolled off the motor city’s assembly lines. “With decades of industry experience, Dykema fields one of the most extensive automotive-related legal practices in the United States. “The attorneys in our coast-to-coast network of offices lead the way, guiding our international roster of automotive industry clients through the many legal hurdles they face and, ultimately, to business success,” says the firm.

It has more than 140 professionals with industry-related experience. Dykema’s Automotive Industry Group anticipates legal issues and meets client challenges long before they have grown into full-blown problems.

Dykema’s automotive government policy practice consists of regulatory specialists and government relations professionals who serve the firm’s clients on federal and state agency and legislative matters. The firm’s long-standing relationships with federal and state legislators and regulators help its clients get their voices heard in a range of forums on the policy matters most critical to their businesses—including import and export issues, legislation and lobbying, and regulation and compliance.

The firm regularly provides education and training to its clients on emerging legal issues critical to the automotive industry. “Our Automotive Industry Group’s presentation involves leading industry insiders, from both legal and business perspectives, in brainstorming sessions focused on forecasts, trends, and future challenges. Other presentations have covered such topics as data privacy and security matters, recall and cost recovery actions, including consumer class actions, current legislative and regulatory issues impacting the automotive industry such as the “whistle-blower” rules under the new FAST Act, and the changing applications of technology and mobility. The Automotive Industry Group provides real value to both our lawyers and our clients by keeping them ahead of the competition,” says the firm.

Dykema’s antitrust and trade regulation specialists team up with its automotive industry lawyers and clients to solve the complex issues relating to the regulation of competition and trade. “Dykema professionals assist automotive clients in a broad range of corporate and commercial legal matters. Whether counselling clients on acquisitions, divestitures, dealer terminations, joint venture formation or commercial contract negotiation and compliance programs, clients rely on us to accurately gauge automotive trends and assess risk as they consider expanding, retooling, or simply refuelling their core business operations,” says a statement from the firm.



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