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January 30, 2023

Renato Smith Featured in Buffalo Business First Article on Legal Obligations When Using Digital Twins

Renato Smith, Trademarks, Copyrights & IP Transactions Practice Area co-chair, was featured in the Buffalo Business First article “Three Key Legal Obligations to Consider With Digital Twins.” The article provided background on what a digital twin is, “a computer model of a real physical object or process, and that model is connected via a digital thread to that real product or process,” said Renato, as well as some examples of where digital twins are used, such as turbines on windmills.

The article breaks the legal obligations of digital twinning into three categories: data rights, joint development, and trade secret vulnerability. About data rights, especially data created from wearable products like fitness monitors that collect biometrics, Renato said, “You’re collecting personal information, so there should be disclosure and consent obtained up front. In a sense, you’re getting the license for the right to use this data.” 

It’s important for manufacturers to do their due diligence to be sure they have the right to make a digital twin. Vendors have to work together to deploy a digital twin and “they have to have the intellectual property provision in the contract with the vendors that address who owns the different buckets of IP and different improvements.”

When digital twins are implemented, businesses should be sure to protect their trade secrets with increased security. Using a manufacturer of a pharmaceutical product as an example, Renato said, “All the settings and parameters for all the machines and equipment, all the settings like temperatures, pressures humidity they developed over years and harnessed it and protect it. You have sensors spread throughout the plant that are connected to all the equipment that are pushing this data up into the digital twin. So, if there’s a data breach the consequences could be dire.” Companies should implement “technical, administrative, and physical safeguards for the digital twin, the plant, and the entire network,” advised Renato. 

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