Technology & Telecommunications

We Understand Your Business

Every day our clients in technology and telecommunications – and our clients in transportation, energy, financial services, healthcare and other sectors – push past the boundaries of what's possible as technology transforms entire industries.

And so do we.

The Holland & Knight Technology & Telecommunications Industry Sector Group combines legal savvy with hands-on technical experience few other firms can claim. With about 110 lawyers and policy advisors across the country with deep technology sector domain experience, we help mature and emerging technology companies meet their most important legal, policy and business opportunities and challenges head on.


Leadership in Converging Technologies

Companies developing industry-disrupting, converging technology rely on us to achieve success. Holland & Knight helps emerging companies raise capital, protect and defend their technology, develop exit strategies, and navigate through the complex legal and compliance issues that arise as new technologies disrupt old ways of doing business. We help established companies protect and defend their technology, develop new business models, and partner with or acquire emerging companies. Our corporate and intellectual property lawyers, policy advisors and attorneys in numerous legal domains are supporting clients in the creation, protection, financing, regulatory clearance and commercialization of the cutting-edge artificial intelligence, autonomous and connected transportation, distributed ledger, FinTech, healthcare, Internet of Things, 5G, virtual reality and other technologies that are shaping the future.

Lawyers Who Code

In a world being redefined by software, we not only know the law but also the ins and outs of building computer software. We founded HKLab — a unique team of lawyers who double as a software development group within a major law firm — to fill a critical need for technology companies: lawyers who code.

Our attorneys' coding capabilities enable us to ask the right questions, look in the right places, and provide technology-centric legal counsel in a way other lawyers cannot. In short: We think like lawyers and systems designers.

Case in Point: Helping Clients Avoid Legal Problems by Reviewing Code

Our ability to look under the hood and examine clients' systems and software means we spot issues that other lawyers may miss. For example, when a firm client wanted to ensure that it was in compliance with the federal Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) — and not mining any data from players under age 13 — our lawyers examined the application's source code and discovered that the app itself wasn't mining data from underage users, but certain third-party packages were. This is the inevitable consequence of systems designed by silos — lawyers who don't understand code and engineers who don't understand the law. It's this intersection of law and technology where violations, lawsuits and costly enforcement actions occur frequently — and where our lawyers find success in representing our clients.

At the Forefront of the Most Critical Technologies

Our technical and legal knowledge spans the technologies driving our clients' businesses, from the 5G technology making the Internet of Things possible to distributed ledger (blockchain) technology, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Some of us even helped build these technologies. For example, before entering the law, one of our attorneys helped develop some of the earliest autonomous vehicle technology as a software engineer at a Tier-1 auto industry OEM supplier.

We're also creating a body of knowledge where none previously existed. Three of our lawyers wrote the Thomson Reuters book, The Blockchain: A Guide for Legal and Business Professionals. And, as drone technology proliferated, we formed a dedicated, interdisciplinary team to help clients contend with the many legal, policy and business issues raised. One of our drone team's first engagements was advising a coalition of major news outlets on the use of drones in newsgathering.

Leveraging the Blockchain

In addition to authoring the first-ever book on blockchain and the law, we are guiding clients on how to leverage the technology while staying within regulatory confines. For example, in the highly regulated banking industry, we collaborate with clients looking to share anonymized data about account holders and transactions to combat money laundering without running afoul of consumer privacy protections. The need to protect privacy rights is a significant impediment to slowing the flow of illicit funds. Some distributed ledger protocols are being deliberately designed to permit industry participants to obfuscate potentially identifying information while exposing enough transaction details to identify suspicious activity.

HKLab Privacy Manager

To help our clients identify and address serious data privacy risks at the technical level, Holland & Knight created a Data Privacy Testing Lab – possibly the only such in-house lab at an Am Law 100 law firm.

The HK Privacy Manager conducts technical tests and reviews of websites, apps, devices and network-aware products to help companies identify potential data privacy issues before they become a problem. Significantly, we provide both technological and legal counsel under the attorney-client privilege to the greatest extent permitted by law.

For example, when a firm client wanted to assess the privacy and data security behavior of a prototype designed for outdoor use, we moved some of HKLab's equipment into a van to monitor and assess the products in real time.

Redefining the Capital Stack: Fundraising, Investment and Financial Regulation

We routinely counsel emerging companies, investment funds, virtual currency exchanges and others involved in token sales and token generation events. Our team of lawyers has substantial knowledge of securities law, including the Investment Company Act of 1940, commodities and corresponding U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) regulations, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and other Bank Secrecy Act (BSA)/Anti-Money Laundering (AML) requirements, and state money services business licensing. In addition, our tax professionals can provide support for both corporate level tax treatment as well as issues relevant to founders who obtain tokens as part of a token sale transaction.

Intellectual Property Litigation and Prosecution

In the fiercely competitive technology sector, companies must protect their innovations from would-be infringers. Some of the biggest names in the technology and telecommunications sector have called on Holland & Knight's extensive national group of intellectual property attorneys in recent years. For example, we:

  • are defending Avaya in the first major patent lawsuit brought by Research in Motion (RIM) as it attempts to monetize its BlackBerry patent portfolio through litigation
  • obtained a summary judgment for Ericsson resolving patent infringement claims brought by WiLAN regarding the technology used in wireless base stations
  • secured a favorable settlement for a multinational information technology equipment and services client in a patent infringement lawsuit involving biometric information and security technologies
  • regularly prepare and prosecute patents for Cadence, Dell Technologies, IBM, Nuance and other major tech companies

Corporate and Transactional Work

  • advised Microsoft on its $600 million Windows-Linux partnership with Novell, which brought Windows and Linux together on the same hardware for the first time
  • helped a leading global software and cloud services provider draft and negotiate cloud services agreements and software-as-a-service agreements with some of the world's largest financial institutions, providing advice on information security controls, data privacy, outsourcing, performance standards and availability, changes in regulatory requirements and more
  • guided one of the world's largest captive automobile finance companies in forming an international joint venture focused on monetizing telematics data
  • regularly provide corporate, financing and intellectual property work for scores of emerging companies, including Gamalon (machine learning), Notarize (online notarization), Optimus Ride (autonomous vehicles), ReversingLabs (Internet security technology) and many others, including startups acquired by many of the tech industry giants

Public Policy and Regulation

Our team includes former high-level government officials, agency directors, congressional staffers and members of Congress who once wrote or enforced the laws and regulations that govern our technology and telecommunications clients. These experienced attorneys and policy advisors help clients enact new legislation and regulations as well as find creative solutions to policy and regulatory challenges. For example, our drone team partnered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and a coalition of 16 leading news organizations to develop regulatory policies for using drones in newsgathering. Our team has been at the leading edge of policy surrounding distributed ledger technology and works closely with other members of the industry group to help clients navigate the labyrinth of regulations and interests often relevant to areas such as FinTech and other emerging technologies.

Immigration

We understand how vital securing talented engineers, programmers and specialists is to running a successful technology company. We help clients obtain foreign expertise through the H-1B visa program and other visas allowing foreign nationals to work in the United States. A partner in our immigration group was one of the Obama Administration's top immigration officials.

Real Estate

Unlike many large law firms that often must retain local counsel for land use and zoning cases, our attorneys at offices in major markets across the U.S. maintain relationships with local government authorities. We help technology and telecommunications companies with all manner of real estate transactions, including acquiring land or entitlements for infrastructure such as cell towers, as well as buying, financing or leasing space for offices, server farms and retail. For example, we:

  • advised Digital Realty, which sought counsel from Holland & Knight's real estate lawyers when it decided to purchase an existing data center in the heart of San Francisco due to our depth of knowledge about the intricacies of structuring, negotiating and documenting data center acquisitions and financing; in this instance, the usual complexities of a data center acquisition were compounded by the fact that the company sought to acquire $85 million in both fee and leasehold interests in the property
  • manage a large and diverse real estate portfolio consisting of hundreds of leases in multi-tenant buildings across the U.S. and Canada for a multinational technology conglomerate headquartered in San Jose, Calif., including managing and handling the full range of the corporation's real estate legal needs, such as leases, lease amendments, terminations and buyouts, estoppels, SNDAs and audits
  • represented a major owner of data centers in the U.S. in connection with a site acquisition and refinancing of its senior debt facility relating to multiple data center sites

Labor and Employment

The tech sector employs a highly mobile, ambitious workforce that poses unique challenges, requiring legal counsel knowledgeable about the industry's distinct employment issues.

We help clients structure highly enforceable employment contracts, executive compensation agreements and non-compete clauses that maintain a company's competitive advantage. Our lawyers also advise on compliance with U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulations and represent clients in discrimination and retaliation claims. Recent matters include:

  • secured a major victory for ride-sharing company Lyft in a much-watched employee misclassification class action case, in which a Massachusetts federal court upheld a class action waiver and forced a Lyft driver to arbitrate his case individually rather than launching a large-scale class action in federal court
  • obtained a preliminary injunction against former employees of a technology firm, which prohibited them from using the firm's proprietary information as a means to compete against the firm or solicit their clients
  • enjoined a group of former employees of a technology firm from operating a competing entity formed during their employment and from misappropriating trade secrets and other company property