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Automotive & Autonomous Vehicles

Our attorneys support clients on the leading edge of the rapidly moving automotive industry, handling the latest developments in electric, hybrid, A.I., autonomous, and core automotive technologies.

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OEMs and Tier 1, 2, and 3 suppliers consistently rely on Harness Dickey in all areas of intellectual property law. We support clients in fast moving technology areas by developing strategies to protect their latest innovations and stay ahead of the competition. Our expertise spans core automotive technologies, electric and hybrid vehicles, and A.I. methodologies powering the move to autonomous vehicles.

Cars are part of our DNA. Harness Dickey was established in Detroit in 1921 in response to the growing automotive industry. Our founder, J. King Harness, formerly served as the patent department leader for the Ford Motor Company and later became the Chief Patent Counsel for Chrysler. Since then, we have continuously served the world’s largest automotive leaders and suppliers. 100 years of counselling gives us an unrivaled level experience and insight into practically every challenge and technology in the automotive industry today.

We understand the technical as well as the legal aspects of innovating in the highly competitive automotive industry. In addition to obtaining both utility and design patents, we counsel clients on joint development agreements, joint ventures, due diligence investigations related to mergers and acquisitions, and trade secret programs for keeping innovations safe when creative collaboration needs to be fostered and carefully controlled. We also counsel clients on obtaining trademarks to protect new brands and product roll outs in markets around the globe.

More than 25% of our attorneys have previous experience as automotive engineers, in-house counsel, or as Examiners at the USPTO. The firm’s CEO, Ray Millien, is the former Chief IP Officer at Volvo Car Corporation and CEO of Volvo Cars Ventures. Ray’s leadership helped propel Volvo Cars to increase patent application filing rates and IP licensing revenue while simultaneously decreasing its operating expenses. In addition, our CEO Emeritus, Bill Coughlin, formerly served as President & CEO of Ford Global Technologies as well as Chief Patent Counsel to Chrysler before that. As a result, few law firms understand automotive companies the way we do. Our attorneys understand the automotive culture from top to bottom and personally know many in-house attorneys at U.S. OEMs. Further, our collective experience in the industry means we are already up to speed on the latest technologies and challenges facing auto industry companies.

As an example of the customized care we provide to automotive clients, we worked with in-house IP counsel to develop a robust invention disclosure program. We started by conducting a patent landscape analysis of their industry, then benchmarked their innovation rates against their key competitors. Next, we leveraged the insights of our CEO, Bill Coughlin, who helped the client develop a program to accelerate innovation and encourage all levels of the company to be inventive. The initiative further added to the company’s IP management processes and policies, with the ultimate goal of boosting overall profitability for the company.

We are counsel of record for tens of thousands of U.S. and foreign automotive patents, trademarks, licenses, freedom to operate investigations, and lawsuits. Our relevant experience includes the following technologies.

Core Automotive Technologies

  • Additive manufacturing
  • Advanced materials, including high strength steels, lightweight metals, polymeric materials, self-cleaning coatings, and advanced composites
  • Aerodynamics
  • Alternative fuels, including biodiesels and ethanol, as well as fuel additives
  • Displays, including dashboard controls, graphic user interface displays, and heads up displays
  • Emissions minimization
  • Fasteners, adhesives, and sealants
  • Heating, ventilation, and cooling systems
  • In-vehicle entertainment
  • Interior fabric and trim
  • Key fob and phone as key technology
  • Noise, vibration, and harshness absorbers
  • Powertrain
  • Propulsion, including electric, hybrid, and internal combustion engines
  • Safety systems, including airbags and seatbelts
  • Seat and window mechanisms, sunroofs, and convertible roofs
  • Shared mobility solutions, including fleet management and monitoring
  • Steering Wheel controls
  • Vehicle diagnostics and durability prediction

Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Technology

  • Composite materials
  • Electric and hybrid vehicle motor control and design
  • Electric vehicle power design, including lithium ion batteries and capacitors, battery and capacitor designs, battery circuits and cooling, and next generation active materials
  • Portable and wall-mounted chargers for electric vehicles

Autonomous Vehicle Technology

  • Aerial and orbital platforms for providing 5G/wireless service
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning software
  • Camera systems and software for use with autonomous vehicles
  • Electronic System For Controlling The Docking Of A Vehicle With A Docking Area
  • Localization technologies using LIDAR Maps
  • Multi-Range Vehicle Speed Prediction.
  • Object detection and avoidance
  • Road Condition Monitoring System
  • Vehicle telematics
  • Vehicle to Everything (V2X) technology
  • Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) technology
  • Vehicle to Pedestrian (V2P) technology
  • Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) technology, including school busses and first responders

In addition to automotive technologies, Harness Dickey’s team of attorneys handles IP rights related to various other vehicles, including RVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles, ATVs and off-road vehicles, electric scooters, boats, and other vehicles for farm, commercial, and recreational use.

We strive to assist our clients with monetizing their intellectual property assets. We prepare, prosecute and work with our clients to manage their often extensive and worldwide portfolios. Our team designs and executes due diligence programs, provides formal opinions regarding freedom to operate and patentability questions, and vigorously defends and enforces our client’s rights in the face of pending litigation. Our legal counsel also includes the clearance, procurement and ongoing monitoring of trademarks and copyrights, as well as identifying copyrightable materials and corresponding registration and protection.