Satellite and Space Technology

  • Holland & Knight's Satellite and Space Technology Team has extensive experience and in-depth knowledge gained from a long history in virtually every significant area of the satellite and space technology industry.
  • We regularly assist clients with a wide range of complex legal and technical issues associated with the satellite and space industry, including regulatory, transactional, export controls and national security, dispute resolution and liability, and legislative issues.
  • Members of our multidisciplinary team are located in Washington, D.C., the Florida Space Coast and other key areas in the U.S. and internationally to provide comprehensive services to our clients.

The complex legal and technical issues facing the satellite and space sector require lawyers with in-depth knowledge and experience in a broad range of areas related to the industry. Holland & Knight's Satellite and Space Technology Team helps clients resolve issues involving several disciplines, including spectrum allocation, satellite licensing, satellite and transponder acquisition and leasing, export controls, and all related commercial aspects of these activities. We also provide guidance on operational issues that are common to every business. Our team provides a full-service approach to the domestic and international needs of stakeholders in the satellite and space industries.

With lawyers in Washington, D.C., the Florida Space Coast, and elsewhere in the U.S and internationally, Holland & Knight's multidisciplinary team applies their know-how to all facets of the satellite and space technology industry.

Regulatory

Holland & Knight attorneys have been representing satellite communication providers for decades before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other regulatory bodies, beginning with the advent of commercial satellites in the mid-1970s. Lawyers in our firm have served clients by:

  • significantly advocating on behalf of clients to help create FCC policies pertaining to new global satellite systems providing fixed, as well as mobile voice and data services, in all world regions
  • creating the U.S. "transborder" satellite process through extended domestic and international negotiations, which is now well-established in U.S. telecommunications policy
  • helping to found the world's first privately owned operational international satellite system and securing FCC licenses for this system through extensive domestic and international regulatory efforts and congressional lobbying
  • representing a direct broadcast satellite company in acquiring licenses from the FCC and securing one of the first FCC-issued global mobile satellite service licenses in the U.S.
  • advising a multitude of user entities on earth station licensing both domestically and internationally
  • advising satellite companies on a regular basis regarding spectrum issues, including both domestic allocation issues before the FCC and international aspects before the International Telecommunication Union
  • serving as lead outside counsel to two major low-earth-orbit (LEO) systems in negotiating telecommunications licenses in foreign countries to support world-wide operations

Transactional

Where regulatory approvals and commercial issues overlap, Holland & Knight attorneys from other groups in the firm have participated in a wide variety of activities in support of our clients' needs. These efforts include:

  • serving as lead counsel in geosynchronous satellite construction and launch agreements
  • negotiating the acquisition of a full-capacity satellite from a major provider for direct-to-home television service in Mexico and Central America
  • negotiating, along with our client, several technology service agreements with leading equipment manufacturers and software providers in support of the Mexico/Central America direct-to-home satellite television service
  • assisting in drafting and negotiating space launch agreements in France and China
  • structuring and negotiating contracts with two international communications service providers for an international television service to Europe and South America
  • assisting a GPS product manufacturer in corporate formation and licensing and distribution agreements
  • negotiating the acquisition and lease of multiple satellite transponders from virtually every major provider of commercial satellites (including Western Union, GTE, Comsat, Hughes, PanAmSat, Columbia Communications Corporation, Intelsat and Eutelsat)

Our highly experienced aviation and maritime structured finance groups have been involved in a number of satellite financings as they have the specific knowledge and experience to provide comprehensive assistance in this area.

Export Controls and National Security Issues

Our lawyers assist satellite companies on the full range of export control and national security matters, such as:

  • preparing technical assistance agreements (TAAs) for direct broadcast and FSS satellites, including licensing in conjunction with insurance of satellites
  • assisting with commodity jurisdiction advice regarding "space qualified" components
  • assisting manufacturers in voluntary disclosures to the State Department Directorate of Defense Trade Controls and the Treasury Department with respect to ITAR regulations
  • advising clients on export control reforms affecting the commercial satellite industry generally
  • assisting a satellite service provider, and other non-domestic clients, in filings with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and related processes

Dispute Resolution and Liability Issues

Holland & Knight has a dedicated group of aviation and aerospace litigators. These attorneys have a substantial amount of experience as lead counsel in high-profile litigation and investigations. Our ability to handle complex claims is enhanced by our global reach and ability to respond quickly and efficiently. Our experience includes the following:

  • representing satellite companies in addressing first-impression questions as to the applicability of UCC Article 2A to satellite capacity leases
  • handling arbitrations regarding failure of a satellite in orbit
  • advising on insurance coverage and liability issues relating to space launch and sale of GPS products

Legislative Affairs

To bolster our work in regulatory, licensing and transactional matters in the satellite and space sector, the firm's long-established Public Policy & Regulatory Group, based in Washington, D.C., is readily available. This group represents each client's position before the relevant House and Senate committees as well as Cabinet departments including State, Commerce, Treasury and Homeland Security, among others.