Manufacturers and commercial users of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) – otherwise known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and commonly known as drones – are increasingly challenged to navigate the rapidly evolving policies, regulations, and technologies for these systems. Comprised of a multidisciplinary team that includes system developers, fighter pilots and drone data analysts, Husch Blackwell’s UAS group is uniquely qualified to assist clients regarding the many legal, privacy, and regulatory issues associated with unmanned systems.
Among the legal issues facing companies seeking to utilize UAS is the FAA’s current regulatory status and impending rulemaking regarding certification and operation requirements, which lags behind this rapidly evolving industry, resulting in confusion and uncertainty regarding the lawful operation of unmanned systems. Because of this uncertain regulatory environment, operators will need trusted legal counsel to effectively navigate the complicated legal terrain. Our team can provide support and advice regarding certificates of authority, exemption requests and advocacy before the governmental entities involved in the rulemaking process.
In addition, privacy, liability and risk management concerns dictate that UAS service providers and end users seek qualified legal counsel to reduce the risks associated with the use of unmanned systems.
The design and development of UAS and their associated technologies present an additional need for qualified counsel with a deep understanding of multiple technical disciplines. For designers, developers and manufacturers, our technical expertise is unparalleled. For example, a member of our team is a military intelligence officer who has experience with UAS information collection and analysis as well as development of UAS intelligence products. Members of the Husch Blackwell UAS team have experience in the following relevant technologies:
Clients benefit from Husch Blackwell’s deep understanding of the complex legal and technical issues associated with unmanned systems. Attorneys in our UAS group actively follow, analyze and comment on the development of the legal and regulatory framework for commercial UAS use. As a member of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), Husch Blackwell is at the forefront of providing counsel to clients in this newly emerging and rapidly expanding industry.
Husch Blackwell’s UAS attorneys have a broad range of regulatory, technical and hands-on experience and specialize in the practices that matter most in this growing industry:
David Agee is an experienced commercial law attorney who specializes in representing clients in the aviation industry. His experience has included various regulatory matters, including seeking certificates of authority from the DOT. David’s aviation practice has provided him with a unique perspective on issues facing the evolving UAS industry and he is actively following the regulatory and associated issues involving UAS, including the pending actions before, and anticipated regulatory action by, the FAA and other foreign jurisdictions.
Robert Attai acted for Space Imaging throughout Asia, the Middle East and the Americas. Space Imaging was a high resolution, space based remote sensing provider, operated as a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. Robert acts for the Sanborn Map Company Inc. (SMC), an aircraft based remote sensing company. Robert handles all manner of corporate, joint venture, financing, and commercial transactions, and the firm manages patent, government contracts, litigation and L&E work for SMC.
Mike Cosby is a transaction attorney specializing in aviation regulatory and tax matters. His experience includes working with clients to develop and implement compliant operational strategies, including those in pursuit of agriculture related aviation applications. Mike frequently works with leading aviation industry groups to monitor and comment on proposed aviation regulatory issues, including those related to UAS.
Sam Digirolamo is a former Air Force fighter pilot (F-100, F-4, T-38 instructor pilot, T-33, C-12. C-26) and current civilian commercial pilot. He was Director of Operations for the Missouri Air National Guard (1991-1997) and a Vietnam veteran with 164 combat missions. He worked with Caterpillar on autonomous movement of earth moving equipment including robotics, remote control, motion/path planning and task allocation. Sam is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). In addition to his flight experience, Sam’s technical focus includes aeronautics, machine tools, plastics, heat exchanger technology, optics, medical devices, mechanical devices of all types, industrial heating and sensing technology, earthmoving equipment, consumer products, footwear, and a variety of control system applications. Sam has litigated all types of intellectual property cases, including appeals before the Patent and Trademark Office.
Tom Gemmell is a former Air Force fighter pilot, with thousands of hours in the F-15 and other high performance jets. He was a Mission Commander, Alert Force Commander, and Mission Planning Cell Commander during the First Gulf War/Desert Storm. As Wing and Squadron Weapons Officer with the 1st Fighter Wing and 71 Fighter Squadron at Langley, VA, and with his experience as a fighter pilot, he is proficient in systems and weapons employment technologies common to UAS, including precision targeting and data-link, as well as flight operations in national and international airspace. In the law, Tom’s area of primary focus is intellectual property and litigation and he has acted as lead trial counsel on a number of patent-infringement cases involving UAS technologies, including reconnaissance/optical and remote control.
Matt Grant has extensive experience in a variety of legal issues impacting the agribusiness industry. His practice has included utilizing satellite imagery and vegetation indices to track crop growth throughout the growing season. He has provided consultation on issues involving crop information privacy and agriculture technology licensing. Matt also advises clients on matters such as crop seed bag labeling; patents, trademarks and plant variety protection; and legal issues involving crops ranging from corn, soybeans and cotton to alfalfa, canola, milo and kidney beans.
Walter Kawula, an electrical engineer, specializes his intellectual property practice in a range of drone supporting technologies, including wireless data communications and embedded systems including automotive digital networks, digital imaging, data logging, and most recently, data encryption technologies.
Cortney Morgan has more than 15 years’ experience representing foreign and domestic clients on a wide range of international trade regulatory issues, including compliance and enforcement of U.S. export control regulations and economic sanctions regimes administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control. She routinely represents clients before the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security, the U.S. Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls and the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. Cortney has assisted clients in the agriculture, aerospace, biotechnology, chemicals and technology industries in obtaining necessary U.S. government licenses relating to the export or transfer of their products, technology and services subject to these controls.
David Newman is a military intelligence officer who has experience with UAS information collection and analysis as well as development of UAS intelligence products.
Nathan Oleen is an intellectual property attorney with experience in motion/path planning, trajectory generation and in-flight aircraft tracking. He prepares and prosecutes patent applications for government defense contractors relating to these technologies. Additionally, with a background in biological and agricultural engineering, Nathan also has extensive experience with precision agriculture and site specific crop management systems and methods. Prior to his legal practice, Nathan gained valuable industry experience from multiple engineering internships with Caterpillar Inc. and AGCO Corp.
Joe Orlet is an experienced first chair trial lawyer who has significant experience in agricultural-related litigation, including in the areas of agronomy, plant biotechnology and the use of satellite imagery of row crops. As leader of the firm’s Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation business unit, he directs a team of more than 125 lawyers who solve problems and deliver value for manufacturing, technology and transportation companies.
Lowell Pearson has built his career on representing businesses in regulatory, litigation and legislative matters in Washington, D.C. and in state capitals. From 2005-2009, he served as Deputy Director of the Department of Revenue and as Chief Counsel to Governor Matt Blunt.
Amanda Tummons focuses her practice on handling commercial matters for clients, many of whom are in the aviation industry. Such representation includes advising clients on regulatory matters both with the FAA and the DOT. Amanda has worked with both manufacturers and operators in the aviation industry that are implementing new technologies, giving her insight into the challenges and opportunities that clients may face. Additionally, she actively follows the development of the framework for commercial use of UAS.
Bob Wilkinson represents large domestic and international clients in the agricultural industry engaged in all aspects of seed, fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide manufacturing and distribution. Relevant to drone technology, Bob has experience with remote sensing of environmental conditions, emissions and releases in both air and water media. He has experience with environmental issues related to farming and ranching operations, including waste management, odor and air pollution issues, and point and nonpoint source water discharges to surface and ground water. Drawing on his technical background and more than 20 years of legal experience, Bob applies his strategic counsel in substantive environmental, safety and health areas, including air, water, wastes, land use, toxic chemical regulation, pesticide regulation and site remediation and redevelopment.