As with any unique and burgeoning technology, the Internet of Things (IoT) faces many digital-age dilemmas. Already booming to a Gartner estimated 4.9 billion active IoT devices in 2015, the largely scenario-based IoT market has grown more quickly than the laws and regulations surrounding it.
The successful conclusion will result in the stable, $11 trillion by 2025, industry that has been predicted for quite some time. However, the mismanagement or bungling of this critical period may very well be a global disaster.
Recognizing the size and severity of what is at stake, law firm Paul Hastings is launching an interdisciplinary Internet of Things practice to help clients navigate the risks and opportunities in the complex and evolving IoT landscape.
“As the IoT brings connectivity to virtually everything, it is changing the way we live, interact, and do business,” said corporate partner Sherrese Smith in a statement. “The rapidly expanding quantities and types of data and the ways in which they are shared create a host of business opportunities and legal challenges —and a significant opportunity for our firm to leverage and focus our existing expertise to help our clients in this critical area.”
Paul Hastings aims to be one of the most innovative global law firms and at the forefront of anticipating clients’ needs, the firm said. It lists “challenge norms” at the top of its to do list, and now turns its expertise towards the network of objects that communicate with other objects through the internet – commonly known as the Internet of Things.
Lawyers from an array of practices were chosen to collaborate on this initiative, including antitrust and competition, securities and capital markets, data centers, employee mobility, finance, intellectual property, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, payment systems, privacy and cybersecurity, private equity, regulatory, technology, and trade secrets practices.
On how the firm chose which areas to include, Sean Unger, a partner with the firm, told Legaltech News, “We began by mapping out the work of lawyers already in technologically focused or related practice areas and considered how it might apply to the IoT. To better understand that relationship, we took a close look at the Internet of Things from every conceivable angle. Finally, we went back in time and studied other instances of new technologies that became very rapidly pervasive.”
The firm’s team is staying hyper-vigilant with regards to the almost daily changes to speculation and regulations surrounding this rapidly growing market. Unger reported that the communication between attorneys and regulators has been extremely open and that this bodes well for the overall success of the industry.
“They have been very engaged with us on questions like privacy and connectivity,” added Unger.
Part of the IoT complexity resides in its ubiquitous nature. A single Internet enabled object can touch a seemingly endless number of legal practice areas. For example, an IP enabled medical device will deal with both the intellectual property of hardware and the software, the regulations surrounding the way the device collects and shares data, existing regulations in the medical industry for those devices, etc., etc.
“Understanding how many issues need to be addressed per IP enabled object and the sheer volume and diversity of the objects themselves it’s easy to see how the complexities begin to pile up,” said Unger. “We wanted to be able to help our clients anticipate and map all of this out from the beginning so that they are ahead of the curve.”
Privacy and cybersecurity practice co-chair Behnam Dayanim concluded, “Rather than working with clients on a one-time basis to address a single issue, our goal is to provide counsel from idea inception through each stage of a product’s life cycle, delivering innovative solutions to create and protect value in this revolutionary new area.”