2019 Legislative Priorities Focus on Growing the Detroit Region

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s Board of Directors recently adopted its legislative priorities for 2019. These 14 priorities, which are critical to economic development and growth of the region, include investing in infrastructure, support for a reliable regional transit system, maintaining a pro-growth tax structure, and creating pathways to postsecondary education and careers, among many other pro-business policy issues. This year’s priorities are aligned with the five pillars that guide the Chamber’s economic development strategy to position the region for global competitiveness.


  • Maintain a pro-growth tax structure that allows Michigan to compete globally for business and talent.
  • Encourage smart spending policies and long-term budgeting that prioritizes fiscal solvency.
  • Maintain a regulatory climate that is conducive to Michigan’s growing economy.
  • Support reforms for Michigan’s criminal justice system that reduce lengthy and costly sentences and provide age-appropriate rehabilitation.
  • Support policies that expand employment opportunities for chronically underemployed populations.


  • Increase dedicated infrastructure funding and lead efforts to prioritize regional transit options for the Detroit region.
  • Encourage regional policies that are consistent with state and federal law and balance local needs with economic growth.
  • Promote policies that increase access to health insurance while opposing policies that drive up costs for employers and individuals.


  • Maintain rigorous K-12 standards that allow students to succeed in the global economy.
  • Create greater accountability for quality and siting in charter schools.
  • Increase postsecondary education attainment through policies such as increased dual enrollment and expanded, need-based financial aid.

Global Connectivity:

  • Create pathways to career opportunities in the automotive industry that develop high-skilled talent, including support for immigration reform and the attraction of international students.
  • Promote smart trade policy, including continued USMCA participation and resisting short-sighted trade restrictions or tariffs that inhibit growth.

Next-Generation Mobility:

  • Support policies that allow Michigan to continue to lead in research and development testing for next generation mobility solutions and other emerging industry sectors.


Roundup of Top Announcements from the 2019 NAIAS

This week all eyes were on Detroit as the 2019 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) kicked into full gear. Below is a recap of the most newsworthy stories and announcements coming out of NAIAS and Automobili-D, as well as what to look forward as you visit the show.


  • Congratulations to Genesis Motor America, Ram Trucks and Hyundai Motor Company – recipients of the 2019 North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year awards. Announced this week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The awards are among the most prestigious in the industry. Winners are chosen by a panel of 54 jurors from print, online and broadcast media across the United States and Canada.
  • Jim Hackett, CEO of Ford Motor Company and Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen announced today that both company’s have decided to work together to cut the cost of new technology development in a joint alliance.
  • Making waves on Tuesday, Detroit Mobility Lab’s Chris Thomas and Jessica Robinson, who both spoke at MICHauto’s Student Summit this past October, announced the Detroit Mobility Lab is launching the Michigan Mobility Institute in Detroit. The institute will focus on educating and re-educating engineers in AI, robotics and other mobility needs. The Michigan Mobility Institute was created as a way to answer the need for the estimated 100,000 new mobility jobs to come with future mobility.
  • Techstars Mobility announced a new name, Techstars Detroit, along with a new partnership with Lear Corporation and new home at the Lear Innovation Center.
  • Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced four pilot projects funded by the $8 Million Michigan Mobility Challenge that will address core mobility gaps for seniors, persons with disabilities and veterans across the state.
  • Eyes on Design awards were awarded to Axalta for “Innovative Use of Color, Graphics or Materials,” ABC Technologies for “Best Interiors” and Ford Motor Co.’s 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 for “Best Production Vehicle.”


  • Ford Motor Company: Revealed the new Shelby GT500, the most powerful street legal Mustang ever. With more features and more power, the Shelby GT500 produces more than 700 horsepower sending it from 0 to 60 mph in three seconds.
  • RAM: Making its debut at NAIAS, Ram rolled out their new heavy-duty Ram 2500. Offering advanced safety features including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking and blind spot warning on all versions. The Ram 1500 also scooped up as the truck of the year award.
  • Toyota Motor Corp.: Aiming to return to Toyota’s signature, performance and excitement, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda revealed the new Toyota Supra on Monday. As Toyota’s commitment to Michigan to continues to thrive, this announcement was felt throughout Detroit as the excitement around the newly unveiled vehicle increased.
  • Nissan EV: Focused on luxury, Nissan reveled the IMs concept EV. The concept is explained as a “elevated sports sedan” the concepts proportions positions the vehicle as a segment of its own due to its electric vehicle identity and unique features.

View photos and read more coverage from NAIAS.

Mobility Week brings new technology, innovations to the Motor City

October 4, 2018
Curbed Detroit
By Robin Runyan

Ask someone in Detroit what mobility means in the city right now and you’re likely to get many different answers. It could mean the patchwork of ways to travel around the city: car, bus, scooter, bike, foot. It could mean financial mobility, or the complications of a city with a high poverty rate and scattered transit system. Or it could mean the broader future, and how Detroit could be a leader in creating how the world moves in the next generation.

From October 7-12, Mobility Week Detroit aims to showcase Detroit’s leadership in technology and the future of mobility. The umbrella of Mobility Week encompasses many different summits and gatherings, including the annual Tech Stars Demo Day; a Henry Ford Health System conference, “The Eye, The Brain and the Auto;” and the Michigan Auto Summit, which presents students with automotive career possibilities.

The public can check out Detroit Moves, which lands in Spirit Plaza October 10 and 11. This free event will showcase a variety of mobility services and businesses, including MoGo, DDOT, Maven, Chariot, May Mobility, and Airspace.

Also expect an educational village with STEM careers and area universities, along with a village of mobility-related start-ups, demonstrations, and interactive experiences with mobility technology. The Detroit Moves website even touts that a flying car will be there.

“The Detroit region is leading in the development of next-generation mobility technology,” said Glenn Stevens, vice president of automotive and mobility initiatives for the Detroit Regional Chamber and executive director of MICHauto. “These events offer an opportunity to not only showcase these emerging technologies, but also provide a way for the industry professionals to connect with the talent needed to continue to lead.”

Detroit Moves is a free festival that runs 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. October 10 and 11. Mobility Week Detroit includes events around the city throughout the week.

View the original article.

Brooks Kushman Shareholders To Speak At Intellectual Property Law Spring Seminar 2018

The Intellectual Property Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan in cooperation with the Institute of Continuing Legal Education is hosting the 2018 Intellectual Property Law Spring Seminar in Lansing, Michigan. It is an opportunity for national and local leaders in intellectual property to network, and learn new best practices to help them adapt to their client’s changing needs. Brooks Kushman shareholders Ben Stasa and Martin Sultana will be presenting on autonomous vehicles technology.

Stasa will be moderating the panel on a comprehensive IP primer of autonomous vehicles, and Sultana will be on the panel. The discussion will cover the new relationships between auto OEMs, suppliers, and tech companies in Silicon Valley, and key IP challenges and emerging issues in vehicle-to-vehicle communications to open source software compliance, industry players will discuss managing the IP and regulatory issues that are disrupting the automotive space.

Stasa is Co-Chair of Brooks Kushman’s Autonomous Vehicle practice group. His practice focuses on guiding the development of medium to large-scale patent portfolios, and managing teams of attorneys tasked with supporting the same. Given his lead role, he is often called upon to handle complex issues, as well as opine on matters concerning infringement, patentability, and validity. Stasa, as a result, has developed expertise in handling difficult legal circumstances for a wide array of technologies. He also has experience in using analytic tools to uncover competitive data and trends, and apply information gleaned from the same when counseling clients on patent strategy.

Sultana is Co-Chair of Brooks Kushman’s Autonomous Vehicle practice group. With years of real world automotive, electronics and software experience, he is well equipped to advise clients in this emerging technology, and regularly advises automotive OEMs and suppliers on the development of patent portfolios, freedom-to-operate opinions and validity opinions. Sultana focuses his practice on patent preparation, patent prosecution, and opinion related work. He also has extensive experience in preparing and prosecuting patent applications on a variety of technologies. Sultana understands, through over a decade of engineering experience and his time as in-house counsel within a Tier-1 automotive supplier, that business decisions often impact intellectual property rights. This approach enables Sultana to thoroughly understand the issues that his clients face, and approach them with an informed perspective.

For more information about the conference, the rest of the programming, and to register for the event click here.

About Brooks Kushman P.C.

Brooks Kushman P.C. is a leading intellectual property (IP) and technology law firm with offices across the nation, and represents clients nationally and internationally with respect to protection, enforcement and monetization of IP, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. The firm has more than 90 intellectual property professionals specializing in various technical disciplines, and has a reputation for providing leading IP counseling with a focus on the business objectives of their clients.

Brooks Kushman counts a number of Fortune 100 companies across a variety of industries among its clients. The firm is also recognized by leading legal publications and rankings, including Corporate Counsel magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Law360, Intellectual Asset Management, Managing Intellectual Property, and Intellectual Property Today. For more information, please visit www.BrooksKushman.com.

PlanetM Landing Zone Amps up in First 90 Days, No Sign of Slowing Down

Logo for Planet M Landing Zone

Ninety days since the official launch of the PlanetM Landing Zone, efforts to attract and connect global mobility startups to the Detroit region are moving rapidly, with 18 global mobility startups, three Tier 1 OEM partners and a venture capital firm actively engaging at WeWork Merchant’s Row. The Chamber launched the PlanetM Landing Zone in October 2017, in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

Connection Point for Global Mobility Startups

This first-of-its-kind space creates a physical entry point for startups and businesses to share and collaborate to drive innovation in next-generation mobility.

Global startups such as DriveSmart, based out of Madrid, the first company in the world specializing in smart driving metrics; and DERQ, a Dubai-based MIT artificial intelligence spinoff, have set up a presence at the Landing Zone.

National startups are also engaging in the space including Mapbox, a location data company, and Spatial, the world’s first human-driven artificial intelligence platform and graduate of the Techstars Mobility accelerator program.

Ford Motor Company and two additional Tier 1 OEMs have signed on as industry partners to actively engage with member startup companies and explore their technology and potential partnerships. With the momentum and attention the Landing Zone has built up in the first 90 days, the opportunities to drive collaboration and innovation in Detroit position our region for strategic growth in the automotive, IT, and mobility sectors.

CES and North American International Auto Show Provide New Leads

From Las Vegas to Detroit, the Chamber started the new year engaging with global mobility and technology startups to promote the Detroit region’s automotive and mobility assets. The Chamber’s business attraction efforts from CES and the North American International Auto Show led to Mighty AI, a tech startup based out of Seattle, Wash. establishing a presence at the Landing Zone and a dozen other global startups considering memberships.

As membership continues to grow, the Landing Zone is actively exploring ways to connect startups to the resources they need to succeed in the region. In the next coming months, aside from networking and curated events, members will also be able to engage and connect through a mobile application, and will also have access to a catalog of legal, tax and human resources services to help grow their businesses.

For more information about the PlanetM Landing Zone or to engage, please visit www.planetmlandingzone.com.

For more information on Forward Detroit, contact Marnita Harris at 313.596.0310. To view a full list of investors and past Investor Exclusive content, visit our Investor Resources page.

Detroit’s Tech, Automotive Leadership Takes Spotlight During Israel Mission Trip

In a follow-up to a January fact-finding mission to Israel earlier this year led by Mark Davidoff, Michigan managing partner at Deloitte, and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, the Detroit Regional Chamber, along with economic development representatives from Oakland County, returned to the country in May to meet with automotive and manufacturing companies looking to expand into the U.S. market.

“Following our fact-finding mission in January, we saw an opportunity in Israel beyond the country’s robust cybersecurity sector to the larger automotive technology landscape,” said Justin Robinson, vice president of Business Attraction for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

“Our Business Attraction program has made a shift to recruit more early-stage automotive technology companies and we are looking to the markets that we believe hold the greatest potential to bring that technology to Southeast Michigan — Israel and Silicon Valley,” he added.

The trip, which took place May 15-19, was timed to coincide with Ecomotion 2017, a worldwide conference focused on promoting knowledge-sharing among companies in the smart transportation sector (pictured).

During the week, the delegation held 25 one-on-one meetings with venture capital companies, automotive accelerators and startups, to glean information on how to best support Israeli companies that have an eye toward the North American market. Primarily, Robinson said companies expressed the need for better connections to OEMs (such as Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co.) and Tier 1 and 2 suppliers.

“It was a great opportunity to listen and understand what we need to be doing as a region to better position ourselves to connect this new startup ecosystem with the established automotive ecosystem in Detroit,” he said.

There are roughly 6,000 startups in Israel today. As more pop up due to the country’s rich talent pool and government support for entrepreneurs, many companies are setting their sights to North America to scale their business quickly, Robinson said.

“Mobility is becoming one of the key areas of focus, which is a perfect opportunity for Michigan,” he said.

For more information on Forward Detroit, contact Marnita S. Harris at mharris@detroitchamber.com or 313.596.0310. To view a full list of investors and past Investor Exclusive content, visit our Investor Resources page.

Dykema Adds Experienced Auto Attorney William Kohler to Detroit Office

Dykema, a leading national law firm, today announced the addition of William J. Kohler to its Corporate Finance Practice Group as senior counsel in the firm’s Detroit office. Kohler has held leadership positions at major corporations in the automotive industry throughout his career. Most recently, he served as Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary of global automotive suppliers Dura Automotive Systems, LLC, and Global Automotive Systems, LLC, and previously was Vice President and General Counsel for the North and South American automotive operations of Johnson Controls, Inc.

As a general counsel and in private practice, Kohler has advised some of the world’s largest automakers and suppliers. He has led some of the automotive industry’s larger and more complicated acquisitions and divestitures, negotiated specialized supply agreements involving the sale and purchase of billions of dollars in critical components, created key joint ventures, and established international operations and distribution networks. He has also led development of significant intellectual property arrangements, including technology licensing and joint development arrangements, and authored the article “Current and Potential Legal Issues Pertaining to Automated, Autonomous and Connected Vehicles.”

“In addition to his strong background in the automotive sector, Bill brings deep expertise on corporate governance and regulatory matters,” said Wilhelm E. Liebmann, Leader of Dykema’s Corporate Finance Practice Group. “He has ties to leaders in Washington, a good grasp of state and local economic development initiatives and has counseled a variety of clients on cross-border matters.”

“Bill’s résumé and years of experience working with automotive heavyweights make him a great fit at Dykema,” said Brendan J. Cahill, Director of Dykema’s Automotive Industry Group. “His background and experience will be a great value for our clients.”

Kohler received a J.D. from the University of Michigan and a A.B. from the University of Michigan Honors College. He also received an M.B.A. from Michigan State University.

About Dykema
Dykema serves business entities worldwide on a wide range of complex legal issues. Dykema lawyers and other professionals in 15 U.S. offices work in close partnership with clients – from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies – to deliver outstanding results, unparalleled service and exceptional value in every engagement. To learn more, visit www.dykema.com and follow Dykema on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Dykema.

Brinks Gilson & Lione attorney: copyright infringement fears fade with new guidelines allowing vehicle software changes

ANN ARBOR, MICH. – John Lingl, a shareholder in the Ann Arbor office of Brinks Gilson & Lione, one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the U.S., says recent guidelines allowing car owners to modify their vehicle’s software without infringing on the copyrights of automakers is a big win for individuals and aftermarket companies. The Library of Congress, which oversees the U.S. Copyright Office, announced the ruling last week. Prior to the decision, aftermarket companies and individuals who modified their vehicle powertrain controllers to change what is often called “fuel and spark mapping” did so at the risk of copyright infringement.

“Many liken the ability to modify a vehicle’s software and control systems to the ability of mechanics to modify engines, transmission and exhaust systems in an effort to improve vehicle performance,” Lingl said. “Today individuals and aftermarket companies are modifying their vehicle’s software to accomplish some of the same goals – and the new guidelines say they will be able to do so lawfully.”

Some view the push by OEMs to prevent software modification as an effort to wall off aftermarket companies, allowing OEMs to become the sole providers of modified software. In so doing, the OEMs would have the ability to set and control pricing for any software modifications and/or possibly prevent third-party repair shops from performing any modifications to a vehicle’s software. Lingl says there are other considerations, however.

“Industry insiders have legitimate concerns that individuals having the ability to modify one or more elements of a vehicle’s software may make their vehicle vulnerable to cyber security threats and safety issues,” Lingl said. “For example, an individual may inadvertently disable safety systems, such as antilock brake systems and airbags. Also, as Volkswagen has shown, modification of the vehicle’s software could result in vehicle emissions that do not comply with state and/or federal laws.”

With the introduction of the new guidelines, Lingl says to expect OEMs to increase their security measures regarding modification of vehicle software to make it more difficult to for individuals and aftermarket companies to modify.

“The automotive industry wants to protect its technology from improper use and will continue to increase the complexity of its software safeguards,” Lingl said. “At the same time, vehicle owners view their vehicles as their own and want the right to alter them as they see fit. This back and forth won’t be resolved through these new copyright guidelines, but more clear-cut definitions of ownership are certain to evolve.”

The guidelines take effect in 2016 and will be reviewed again in three years.

Brinks Gilson & Lione
The attorneys, scientific advisors and patent agents at Brinks Gilson & Lione focus their practice in the field of intellectual property, making Brinks one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the U.S. Clients around the world rely on Brinks to help them protect and enforce their intellectual property rights. Brinks attorneys provide counseling in all aspects of patent, trademark, unfair competition, trade secret and copyright law. More information is available at www.brinksgilson.com.


Dickinson Wright to Sponsor Canada-United States Business Association’s 2014 Fall Luncheon

DETROIT, Mich., September 15, 2014 – Dickinson Wright PLLC is pleased to announce that it will be the Presenting Sponsor for the Canada-United States Business Association’s 2014 Fall Luncheon “Our Collective Future: The Great Lakes Auto Industry in an Era of Global Change” on October 7, 2014 at 42 Degrees North in the Detroit Marriott Hotel.

The U.S. and Canadian automotive industries have held a shared destiny for over 100 years. Since 1965, this connection has flourished, thanks to tariff-free access and the resulting efficiency gains from increased economies of scale. Employment and volume grew – consumers in both countries benefited. At the luncheon, industry experts with experience on both sides of the border will examine where the relationship is headed within an increasingly complex global industry structure.

Event details are below. To learn more about this event or to register, please click here.

CUSBA 2014 Fall Luncheon “Our Collective Future: The Great Lakes Auto Industry in an Era of Global Change”

Date: Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Time: 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Location: 42 Degrees North
Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center
400 Renaissance Center
Detroit, MI
Speakers: Michael Robinet, Managing Director of IHS Automotive
Laurie Harbour, President of Harbour Results

About Canada-United States Business Association (CUSBA)
The Canada-United States Business Association (CUSBA) is a non-profit, non-partisan, issues-oriented business association formed in 1992. As an international business association, “CUSBA’s goal is to become the premier voice of cross-border businesses and to promote the common business interests of Canada and the U.S.” CUSBA members are comprised of business leaders and stakeholders from both sides of the border.

About Dickinson Wright PLLC
Dickinson Wright PLLC is a full-service law firm with more than 40 practice areas. Founded in 1878, Dickinson Wright PLLC has over 350 lawyers in offices located in Detroit, Troy, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Lansing, and Saginaw, Mich.; Columbus, Ohio; Las Vegas, Nev.; Nashville, Tenn.; Phoenix, Ariz.; and Washington, D.C. Dickinson Wright LLP has over 35 lawyers in Toronto, Canada.