Breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (“AI”) technologies have disrupted a wide swath of the global economy and are expected to have significant impacts on individuals and businesses for the foreseeable future. Nearly every U.S. industry has been impacted by advances in AI, including healthcare, maritime, aviation, automotive, consumer product, banking, finance, and software. Businesses are using AI technologies in autonomous vehicles, maritime vessels, unmanned aerial systems, facial recognition, drug discovery, bank website chatbots, and media recommender systems.
With the increasing use of AI both in the United States and abroad, federal and state lawmakers are beginning to propose and pass legislation aimed at some of those use cases, often targeting controversial uses such as information-amplifying bots, facial recognition, and certain automated decision systems. The White House is invested in developing AI capabilities at the federal level, tasking agencies like the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) to develop relevant technology standards, and Congress is looking at the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) as an agency to possibly regulate aspects of the AI industry. In this uncertain legal landscape, the need to possibly self-regulate, plan for future regulations, and maintain vigilance for potential litigation risks are key considerations for businesses operating in the AI tech sector.
Our multidisciplinary team of attorneys is ready to advise clients about AI technologies and the many legal issues that arise for companies seeking to develop or incorporate AI technologies into their products and services. We provide cutting-edge strategic legal approaches to dealing with AI at all stages of exploration—from looking at ways AI may impact businesses, to monitoring legislation and “soft law” standards applicable to developers, to sorting through hype to find true value in business transactions involving AI products and services. Through our business-oriented and client-centered approach to handling legal matters, we offer guidance and insight from continually evolving transactional-, regulatory-, and litigation-focused perspectives.
Key Legal Issues
- Privacy and data security remain important considerations, especially in areas such as user and personally identifying information (including biometric data) collected by AI systems, such as face data obtained from facial recognition systems.
- The lack of transparency in black box technologies like AI is a concern that continues to follow AI technology developers, and understanding how one’s algorithmic model leads to impactful decisions can help avoid hits to a company’s reputation and may be a reportable risk factor in Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
- Instances of bias in AI-based decision systems creates potential civil rights concerns, and understanding an AI model’s baked-in implicit biases and how they may disproportionally affect underrepresented populations should be a crucial element in business risk management.
- Proposed rules being considered by lawmakers may require disclosure of proprietary and trade secrets related to automated decision systems, requiring thoughtful review of contract terms involving such systems.
- AI-based robot process automation is impacting labor and employment policies as well as affecting labor negotiations, workforce training and retraining, and other business processes.
- The legal patent landscape surrounding AI technologies is evolving and expected to affect approaches to protecting, licensing, and enforcing company-developed, AI-based inventions.
- Mergers & acquisitions due diligence, always a requirement in deals and investment evaluations, plays an even bigger role in deals involving AI products and services, as media attention helps spark record numbers of AI-based startups and investment. Understanding the nature of a startup’s AI technology is crucial to proper valuation.
- Regulation of automated unmanned aerial vehicles and systems (“UAVs”/“UASs”) by the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) and the safety of road-going highly automated vehicles and the possible mandate to incorporate advanced driver monitoring systems (“DMS”) in U.S. vehicles (to achieve five-star ratings) by the Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and other agencies continue to require vigilance of the rules to achieve regulatory compliance.
- The government’s use of data rights and intellectual property regulations in Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security contracts related to the development of data-based AI systems for delivery to the government could impact bids, bid protests, and contract compliance, which a cross-practice legal team familiar with AI technology can help navigate.
How We Can Help
When it comes to products and services that use or rely on AI technologies, we can provide a team of highly experienced attorneys in the following industries and practice areas:
- Intellectual Property & Technology
- Preparing and prosecuting patent applications to protect AI technologies
- Obtaining trademarks and developing branding for AI businesses, and advising on the acquisitions of .AI, .IO, and other tech-centric domains
- Advising on the advantages of protecting AI-based trade secrets vs. obtaining patents
- Bet-the-company patent and trademark litigation, when necessary and as a critical component in growth strategies and protecting market share
- Advising on the regulatory landscape and compliance issues applicable to owners/operators of uncrewed or advanced automation vessels
- Providing counsel on applicable legal, risk management, insurance, and regulatory issues involving UAVs/UASs and other types of aircraft and aviation products and equipment
- Reviewing and developing privacy policies for websites and mobile apps that address the nuances of using AI-based models
- Preparing policies and consents required by applicable law to collect sensitive data, such as biometric data obtained through facial and object recognition camera systems
- Assisting U.S. companies in addressing General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) requirements applicable to AI-based businesses and products that collect user data
- Implementing a security breach response plan for companies, as well as processes to reduce the risks related to security incidents
- Labor & Employment
- Drafting and reviewing employment policies to address the impacts of AI technologies, such as robot process automation, on labor and employment
- Advising companies regarding employment and labor agreements affected by automation
- Developing or reviewing purchase agreements involving AI technologies, as well as acquisition, user license, terms of service, privacy policies, software as a service, and other agreements
- Mergers & Acquisitions
- Due diligence assessments of AI businesses by highly experienced and knowledgeable AI teams
- Sorting through hype to find true AI business valuation in deals, including bankruptcy purchases
What Sets Us Apart
- Our intellectual property & technology attorneys have experience working with AI technologists at some of the leading AI-tech companies, as well as innovators in academia working in multiple domains such as healthcare and consumer products.
- Our aviation team has been actively involved in issues arising at the crossroads of unmanned aerial systems and the law since regulations were first raised by the FAA, and are sought after for their knowledge of legal issues surrounding uses of UAVs/UASs, among other aircraft.
- Our highly ranked maritime attorneys have unique perspectives about the impacts of regulations on AI systems used in maritime vessels.
- Our life sciences attorneys are experienced in health tech AI, one of the fastest growing areas of the healthcare industry.
- Our blockchain team of more than 60 attorneys closely follows disrupting technologies like blockchain, AI, and other tech (e.g., FinTech) and their use cases in finance and other industries.
- Our cybersecurity and data privacy team advises clients on the risks associated with data collection and storage, including risks associated with AI technologies like facial recognition.
- As an early adopter of AI-based legal tech, at Blank Rome we don’t just talk AI, we use it.