A Candid Conversation with Michigan’s Promising Next-Generation Industry Leaders

What excites and motivates you about mobility and the industry you are working in?

Anya Babbitt, Founder and CEO, SPLT

Mobility excites us at SPLT because of the industry’s power to make large and widespread impact that affects people’s lives. When we think about mobility, we think about transforming the way people meet and move by leveraging urban technology. Mobility is a fascinating space to be in because it is changing so rapidly and that is precisely what makes it both challenging and inspiring.

Erica Klampfl, Future Mobility Manager, Ford Motor Co.

At Ford I’ve had the opportunity and privilege to work on solving both current and long-term mobility challenges to make mobility affordable economically, environmentally and socially. It’s exciting to look at the future of our transportation system, and more importantly wor

Automotive and Mobility's Rising Stars

Automotive and Mobility’s Rising Stars

k to solve real challenges people are facing. We’re seeing global megatrends such as explosive population growth, an expanding middle class, air quality and public health concerns, changing consumer attitudes and priorities that continue to impact the practicality of personal vehicle ownership in cities. It’s been exciting to partner with Ford leadership on our Ford Smart Mobility plan, forging a new business area for Ford — one that continues our tradition of providing mobility for all, but now beyond just through personal ownership.

Laurent Vioujas, Software Design Champion, Visteon

Cars are an integral part of our everyday lives, and it is exciting to know that the products we develop reach so many people around the world. Products we work on today may not go to market until 2020, so I have a unique glimpse into the future and know my work will continue to impact drivers for years to come.

What does having a great “culture” in a company mean to you?

Anya Babbitt, Founder and CEO, SPLT

At SPLT, culture is baked into everything we do. We believe our company is family. We strive to create a space where our team feels comfortable to grow and innovate. Our culture is a reflection of the people that make up our team. Without culture, what do you really have? We’re about being a great company for our customers, but also for our employees, and achieving that balance requires discipline and mindfulness.

Erica Klampfl, Future Mobility Manager, Ford Motor Co.

I’ve been at Ford for 16 years and I think having a great company culture is extremely critical in providing an environment to inspire innovation, creativity and a willingness to continually evolve. We’ve worked hard to energize the entire workforce to think outside of the box and are challenging employees through encouraging experimentation and enterprise-wide innovation challenges. The core company principle of treating others with dignity and respect is something that I really value, and you can see how this plays out within both our internal and external relationships. We’re using our 113 years of industry expertise and talent within the company to evolve as both an auto and mobility company, and our dynamic company culture has contributed to that.

Laurent Vioujas, Software Design Champion, Visteon

To have a great culture, you have to go beyond competitive salaries and benefits. For me, work-life balance, team collaboration and good leadership are key. Fostering a company culture that challenges and empowers employees to reach their full potential, while also recognizing their innovations, is equally important.

What critical actions are needed to attract, promote and grow Michigan’s next-generation workforce?

Anya Babbitt, Founder and CEO, SPLT

We need to think different. The easy answer is that we need to attract talent from around the region, the country and around the world to bridge diverse perspectives. But we also need to look right next to us and change the way we value talent. The history of entrepreneurship here is rich and remains, and we need an expectation shift that fosters entrepreneurship among young people.

Erica Klampfl, Future Mobility Manager, Ford Motor Co.

The changing automotive and mobility landscape makes Michigan an exciting place to work right now. As we look to bring new talent to our teams, we’re constantly looking to recruit smart minds from diverse backgrounds that will help us create these next-generation transportation solutions. Michigan needs to foster an environment of innovation, continue to bring in and create a receptive environment for entrepreneurs, work with universities to ensure curriculum prepares and generates students that provide the right talent, and be open to expanding into new areas.

Laurent Vioujas, Software Design Champion, Visteon

The continued revival of downtown Detroit will help. We must evolve to meet the expectations of the next-gen workforce that grew up with digital devices and lacks patience for outdated tools. Companies must invest in technology, and partner with local colleges and universities to tailor programs so graduates have the skills to work in Michigan. Internships identify talent and build industry knowledge prior to graduation.

What is one thing you like about Detroit and Michigan?

Anya Babbitt, Founder and CEO, SPLT

It’s hard to focus on just one thing, but I would say it’s the people and — in one word — the community. The people of Detroit and Michigan have opened their arms up to us, especially the founders coming from New York and Atlanta. I joke with my co-founder that southern hospitality is one thing, but the Midwestern hospitality is second to none, and we have benefited from the tremendous values of hard work and hustle that makes up the fabric of this community.

Erica Klampfl, Future Mobility Manager, Ford Motor Co.

I am constantly impressed by the resilience and resourcefulness of the people of Detroit. Their willingness to transform their own identity and pivot from just being the Motor City to driving entrepreneurship around new mobility solutions inspires me.

Laurent Vioujas, Software Design Champion, Visteon

There’s so much to love about Detroit and Michigan. I especially love the “never give up” mentality here. Detroit has been through some tough times, but the recovery has been remarkable. The automotive industry is moving forward, and Detroit is at the heart of it all – constantly pushing the limits and boundaries of innovation.

Chamber Continues to Urge Lawmakers to Reform Michigan’s Energy Law, Looks to the New Year

As the 2015-2016 legislative session comes to a close, the Detroit Regional Chamber continues to advocate for strong, pro-business policies in Lansing. With only one week tentatively left, the Chamber is urging lawmakers to pass a comprehensive reform of Michigan’s Energy Law (Senate Bills 437-438), which would set new procedures for building new plants, ensuring adequate infrastructure, require alternative electric suppliers to provide greater guarantees for their power supply, increase the percentage of electricity that must be generated from renewable sources from 10 to 15 percent, and establish new net metering regulations for customers who generate their own power.

In addition, the Chamber continues to monitor legislation that would assist Detroit’s collection of city income taxes (Senate Bill 1127) to ensure that taxpayers are adequately protected, and House Bill 5578 that would alter the assessments of large retail properties.

In a recent victory for Michigan’s automotive industry last week, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation expanding the regulation of autonomous vehicles, maintaining Michigan’s role as the leader of the mobility revolution.

Looking towards 2017, the Chamber will be re-introducing other reforms that have made substantial progress but were not able to reach final passage in 2016, including comprehensive reform of the Michigan Tax Tribunal (House Bill 5765) and equitable treatment of taxpayers with the Department of Treasury (House Bill 4461).

The Chamber will also continue to educate lawmakers on innovative tax incentive proposals that spur economic development in the region, including an expansion of tax increment financing (TIF) to encourage large, transformational projects (Senate Bills 1061-1065).

Developing IP in evolving autonomous vehicle market demands thorough understanding of FRAND commitments

Emerging technologies continue to infiltrate cars, and notably autonomous vehicles, making them increasingly complex, intelligent and connected. This outgrowth calls for the industry’s standard-setting bodies to strike a balance between the intellectual property rights driving these standards and the benefits derived from others’ needs to utilize them, according to Jon Beaupré, a shareholder in the Ann Arbor office of Brinks, Gilson & Lione, one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the U.S.

One customary approach is the use of a licensing obligation that is fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory or “FRAND,” also known as “RAND” (reasonable and non-discriminatory). Under FRAND terms, the standard-setting bodies may require their members to provide benefits such as agreeing to grant licenses or disclose intellectual property rights.

Companies that enter into FRAND commitments often do so through membership or participation in standard-setting organizations (“SSOs”), which are organizations that develop technical standards for all adopting parties in a particular field. For example, SSO members often indicate their willingness to allow their particular platform, technology, or product to be available for licensing, which in turn, enables widespread adoption in the marketplace.

“Businesses often consent to FRAND-type commitments for their reciprocal terms and the fact that the benefits may outweigh the value of the intellectual property disclosure in the long run,” Beaupré said. “Also, many businesses realize that consenting to these commitments is the price of admission for being a member of a standard-setting organization.”

“In the case of autonomous vehicles, the multitude of new technologies that have to interface with each other, as well as the numerous parties involved in the operation, has brought renewed interest and scrutiny to FRAND,” Beaupré said.

Before jumping into a FRAND commitment, Beaupré advises businesses to carefully consider all legal implications involved in doing so. Besides licensing, other factors to bear in mind include:
• Patent Portfolio Management: Patents can add to the overall value of a growing company and should be taken into account when setting business and financial strategy.
• Escalation of FRAND Litigation: Recent litigation over FRAND patent royalties has some experts asking whether FRAND is effective.
• Antitrust Compliance: Issues may include attempts to set prices or financial terms or activity that blocks new market entrants or suppresses competition.
• Software Licensing: Copyrights and legalities regarding the creation, use and licensing of software have a growing role in new vehicles technologies, and therefore, must be carefully managed.

“Businesses that proactively manage the legal implications of FRAND within a changing automotive industry will be best positioned to take advantage of these new developments,” Beaupré concludes.

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.

Brinks Gilson & Lione’s Oberholtzer interviewed by Comcast Newsmakers; advises caution on collaborative projects between the auto and tech industries

Brinks Gilson & Lione’s Oberholtzer interviewed by Comcast Newsmakers; advises caution on collaborative projects between the auto and tech industries

Steven L. Oberholtzer managing shareholder of the Ann Arbor office of Chicago-based Brinks Gilson & Lione, one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the U.S., was a guest on Michigan’s Comcast Newsmakers, a news platform presenting public affairs information via interviews with local, state and federal officials and business and community leaders.

The topic of the interview, which can be viewed here, was a discussion on the unique challenges faced by traditional automakers and their supplier partners amid high profile collaborations between the auto and tech industries. Oberholtzer advises the auto industry to protect its core competencies while using shared technologies vital to the ongoing development of autonomous vehicles, hybrids and other technology-driven initiatives which reflect a fundamental shift in the auto industry. The interview followed a blog post Oberholtzer contributed to Automotive News in June 2016 on the same topic.

Oberholtzer’s practice at Brinks focuses on patent and trademark counseling, corporate intellectual property policy development and administration, technology licensing, joint development and joint venture relationship agreements. He has extensive experience with the intellectual property legal issues of the automotive industry and a lifelong interest in the industry and its products. Oberholtzer was previously employed as a senior project engineer with a domestic OEM manufacturer and as in-house patent counsel for a Tier 1 supplier. In private practice, he has acted as primary outside counsel for a number of Tier 1 and lower tier supplier engagements that include worldwide responsibility for all intellectual property issues and management of teams of attorneys handling all facets of these matters.
Oberholtzer is the principal author of a primer on intellectual property entitled, The Basic Principles of Intellectual Property Law. He holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Kettering University, formerly known as the General Motors Institute, and received his J.D. from the Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University.

Comcast Newsmakers is presented online at www.comcastnewsmakers.com and across Comcast’s national Xfinity on-demand service.

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.

Brooks Kushman Shareholder Discusses Joint Development Agreements In Crain’s Detroit Business

Brooks Kushman Shareholder Marc Malooley was featured in Crain’s Detroit Business’ March 21, 2016 article, “Joint development agreements smooth way for auto tech partnerships.”

In the article, Malooley discusses that automakers are partnering with smaller start-ups to advance technology at a faster pace.

“In some cases, it doesn’t matter if the company is bigger or smaller, because they have a technology the automakers can’t replicate in house or get elsewhere,” Malooley said in the article. “Now, the relationship is not so one-sided.”

Malooley has nearly 20 years of intellectual property (IP) experience, focusing on a variety of IP matters including patents, trade secrets and IP license agreements. He represents clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies to sole inventors, and assists them in all aspects of IP protection. He holds a Juris Doctor from Indiana University, Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan and Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Wayne State University.