Space and Satellites

Morrison Foerster offers a full-service, end-to-end legal practice for companies operating or investing in the commercial space industry. We have a multidisciplinary group of attorneys with decades of collective experience advising on novel and complex satellite, rocket, space station, and space technology projects across the globe, and have advised on all facets of these programs from design to deployment. Our clients have included traditional space and NewSpace industry pioneers, emerging entrepreneurs and startups, investors, lenders, and equipment and component manufacturers for space and satellite applications.

We combine our knowledge of relevant regulatory and legal issues with an in-depth, practical understanding of the commercial space ecosystem to meet our clients’ challenges and needs. We counsel clients across a range of matters including:

  • Corporate and Finance – We assist our clients in the effective structuring and financing of commercial space transactions, including mergers, acquisitions, and dispositions, private equity/venture capital and other private financings, de-SPAC transactions, joint ventures, public-private partnerships, and other arrangements. We are known for advising on cross-border transactions and are able to seamlessly staff across jurisdictions. We also partner with our regulatory team to assist clients in navigating the complex and changing global regulatory environments impacting transactions.
  • Systems and Contracting – We have experience working on a variety of projects involving geostationary and non-geostationary satellite systems, negotiating and drafting a wide variety of related agreements including purchase contracts, launch services agreements, in-orbit delivery contracts, ground station development and supply contracts, off-take and commercialization arrangements, and telemetry, tracking, and control agreements. We couple this with our broad institutional experience working with clients in the semiconductor and telecommunications industries, and in the design, services, and supply arrangements relevant to commercial satellite manufacturers and operators.
  • Intellectual Property (IP) – We have deep bench of IP practitioners—including patent prosecutors, IP litigators, and a dedicated technology transactions team—who advise clients on licensing arrangements, patent and trademark protection, software and cybersecurity issues, and other IP concerns relevant to space and satellite technologies. We routinely assist our clients in preparing and filing patent applications in the satellite technology sector, and have negotiated a variety of IP licensing arrangements in support of various satellite deployments. We also have industry-leading experience in protecting IP, technical data, and computer software in connection with government-funded projects, and in leveraging specialized government development programs like the Small Business Innovation Research program. We are similarly adept at handling patent disputes involving government contracts under the specialized regime of 28 U.S.C. §1498.
  • Government Contracts – Our attorneys have advised many of the household names in the government space market on contract award and performance problems, including teaming agreement issues. We are problem solvers who are familiar with unique contract vehicles—e.g., Space Act agreements, Other Transactions (OTs), and Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs)—and have worked across the table from all of the major space-related government agencies. We are also at the forefront of assisting clients with the increasingly complex cybersecurity requirements of the federal government. Our world-leading global privacy practice has provided advice on the applicability of U.S. and international laws relating to privacy and transfers of personal data to the novel environment presented by satellite collection of data.
  • National Security and Export Control – We have a dedicated team of advisors who focus on export control and national security issues. We have significant experience assisting clients in navigating the complex web of regulatory and compliance obligations relevant to the importing and exporting of sensitive technologies relevant to satellite and space companies’ sourcing arrangements. This includes ensuring clients’ products and technologies are properly classified and licensed under U.S. or other export control regimes and appropriate processes are in place to ensure compliant yet efficient technical collaboration with partners, vendors, and customers.
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