Autonomous vehicle technology is changing the automotive industry and giving rise to new relationships, with telecommunications and technology companies playing an increasingly prominent role. Technology providers and applications developers are partnering with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers for the design, development and testing of autonomous vehicles. These partnerships have great potential to positively transform the industry, but they are not without risk. Chief among these risks is the likely exposure of OEMs’ trade secrets to misappropriation, unless appropriate steps are taken.

Trade secret misappropriation risk arises due to the necessary sharing of information among these partners for regulatory compliance, vehicle integration and other purposes. This risk is enhanced as the workforce continues to become more mobile and information becomes easier to copy and transport. Although autonomous vehicles are expected to reduce accidents, they will not eliminate them entirely. The threat of litigation over accidents involving autonomous vehicles also promises to multiply the risk of disclosure. During the litigation discovery process, determining the cause of the accident and who is responsible, as well as answering the difficult questions of whether the vehicle functioned as intended and whether it was designed to function in that way, will require sensitive information from and about numerous OEMs.

Jul-Sep 2019 Issue

Fisher Philips