Brooks Kushman Attorneys Elected State Bar IP Section Officers

Brooks Kushman attorneys David C. Berry and Hope Shovein have been elected to serve one-year terms as Chair and Chair-Elect, respectively, of the State Bar of Michigan Intellectual Property Law Section. The election took place on Saturday, July 23, 2016 at the section’s annual meeting at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

As Chair, Berry will be responsible for oversight of the group of over 1200 members, report on the section’s efforts and contributions at each annual State Bar of Michigan meeting and oversee the section’s various events throughout the year. He also chairs the steering committee of the Michigan Patent Pro Bono Project, which is a service project of the section. Berry is a registered patent attorney and has more than 15 years of law practice experience focusing on patent litigation and IP licensing. He has represented clients in all phases of litigation, including pre-trial proceedings, bench and jury trials and appeals, including arguing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

As Chair-Elect, Shovein will succeed Berry as Chair in July 2017. She will also preside over the section’s meetings and oversee the Intellectual Property committees as needed. Shovein previously served as the section’s Secretary-Treasurer. Shovein focuses her practice on the procurement and enforcement of trademark rights, including proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Shovein specializes in helping clients enforce their rights in any medium, such as the unauthorized use of trademarks in website content, and representing clients in domain name disputes.

The Intellectual Property Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan provides education, information and analysis about laws and procedures pertaining to federal and state patent, trademark and copyright laws through a variety of activities including meetings, seminars and publication of a newsletter. The section reports proposed legislation, supports the legal education of members and the general public and promotes the fair and just administration of such laws.

About Brooks Kushman P.C.

Brooks Kushman P.C. is a leading intellectual property (IP) and technology law firm with offices in Michigan and California, 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, World Trademark Review, and Intellectual Property Today.

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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