Taking a break from reporting on COVID-19 legal developments, we turn for a moment to what is happening now on export control of autonomous vehicle technology.

The autonomous vehicle R&D sector is booming, largely in the last three years. Companies are investing in sensor technology and machine learning, and creating pilot programs to test self-driving cars both for individuals and ride-sharing purposes.


Continue Reading The Emerging Landscape for Export Controls on Autonomous Vehicle Technology

Key Takeaways:

  • Technology Infrastructure and Data. CFIUS will focus its review on investments in critical Technology, critical Infrastructure, and sensitive personal Data (“TID Businesses”).
    • Critical technologies is defined to include certain items subject to export controls along with emerging and foundational technologies under the Export Control Reform Act of 2018.
    • CFIUS provides a very helpful list of critical infrastructure and functions to help assess whether any business is a TID Business. We reproduce most of this list at the end of this blog article. (Sneak preview: telecom, utilities, energy, and transportation dominate the list.)
    • The proposed regulations provide much-needed guidance on what constitutes sensitive personal data and also seek to limit the reach of the definition so it does not cast too wide a net over transactions in which CFIUS really should have no national security concern.
  • Exceptions for Certain Countries. Investors from certain countries may be excepted from CFIUS jurisdiction when making non-controlling investments.
  • New Set of Rules for Real Estate. In a companion piece, CFIUS proposed for the first time a detailed set of rules related to investments in real estate. We will cover this in a separate blog article to be published in the near future.
  • Expansion of Short-Form Declaration Use. The proposed rules provide parties the choice to use a short-form declaration for any transaction under CFIUS jurisdiction in lieu of a long-form notice.
  • Comments Due by October 17, 2019. Members of the public may submit comments on the proposed regulations any time between now and October 17, 2019. Final regulations must be adopted by CFIUS and become effective no later than February 13, 2020.


Continue Reading CFIUS Proposes Rules to Implement FIRRMA

Over the past year, the impact of international political risks on the global tech industry has been unprecedented.”
Tung Tzu-hsien, Chairman of iPhone’s Chinese assembly company, Pegatron

Technology investment is getting harder. A few years ago, strategic and private equity technology acquisitions, multinational joint venture creation, and cross-border R&D collaboration were not only relatively straightforward, they were an economic engine driving the global technology economy.

Now, U.S. export controls, technology transfer restrictions, CFIUS and other investment reviews, and tariffs and non-tariff barriers have begun to limit the options for successful transactions in the tech sector. In this article, we examine the new and emerging challenges and suggest a strategies for navigating the changing currents of global trade and politics to get your deal done despite the shifting landscape.
Continue Reading INTERNATIONAL TECH INVESTMENT ISSUE – Threats to Technology Investment from Global Politics: How to Succeed as Borders Tighten

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, CFIUS, is the U.S. government agency that conducts national security reviews of foreign direct investment in the United States. The CFIUS rules have been significantly tightened over time, which has created major obstacles, particularly to technology investments, and particularly for Chinese investors.

But as investors turn elsewhere looking for more a more streamlined investment process, they may be disappointed. Around the world, countries are creating new laws, or dusting off old ones, to allow their governments to examine and restrict foreign investment.

This article presents an overview of the emerging (or reemerging) foreign investment legal regimes in the EU – including domestic laws in France, Germany, Italy and the UK – Canada, Norway, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. For brevity in this article, we summarize our analysis in graphics and tables. However, we recommend that investors obtain a thorough legal analysis from local counsel before proceeding with an investment in any of the countries discussed here.
Continue Reading INTERNATIONAL TECH INVESTMENT ISSUE – Investments With Borders: CFIUS-Style Foreign Investment Review Goes Global

Finally, the much awaited harmonized screening framework of foreign investments into the EU (Regulation 2017/0224) has been agreed upon on 20 November 2018 by the EU Parliament, the Council and the Commission.

The agreed package will ensure that the EU and its Member States are equipped to protect their “essential interests” while remaining “one of the most open investment regimes” in the world. Protecting an open economy may sound like a comical oxymoron, but the press release of the European Commission on this topics does make for an amusing read!


Continue Reading The Traps of a CFIUS Like EU FDI Screening Mechanism

Key Takeaways:

  • Emerging technology sectors will soon be subject to new export controls.
  • Affected sectors include biotech, computing, artificial intelligence, positioning and navigation, data analytics, additive manufacturing, robotics, brain-machine interface, advanced materials, and surveillance.
  • New export controls on these sectors will likely require companies to obtain a license to export products to China and other destinations, and impose restrictions on sharing information with foreign nationals.
  • These sectors will also be added the list of industries subject to enhanced foreign investment scrutiny by the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
  • The U.S. government has invited comments on the criteria to be used to establish new controls. The deadline for comments is December 19, 2018.

Export controls and other regulations often lag a step or two behind the times. That trend has accelerated with the pace of technological advancement. As a result, for many years, technical know-how in many cutting-edge technical fields has not been subject to export controls. This has meant that many commercial technical innovations could be freely exported without significant restrictions. As long as they were not designed for a military application, and no encryption technology involved, many new ideas developed in the United States were simply unaccounted for in the U.S. Export Administration Regulations (EAR).

But the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) is about to make up a lot of ground in a single, large leap.
Continue Reading The Little Regulation That Will Make a Big Change in How You Do Business: Department of Commerce to Establish New Export Controls on Emerging Technologies