US: Intellectual Property implications about the Volkswagen cheating scandal

September 11, 2015

In the last six years, VW has been cheating on the emissions testing for its cars. The cars' software was able to detect when they were being tested, changing their engines to look much cleaner than they were. This scandal that has been stirred the world, also has great effects in the Intellectual Property field.

The first question which springs to mind is how to deal with the dangers of secret code in software. With the daily increase of controlled devices by software, this issue becomes of great importance. Over the years it has been advocated, by some associations, that software code ought to be transparent and available to the public. However, Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) specifically criminalizes measures taken to circumvent security devices that protect copyrighted work.

Another question that has been raised is the impact of this scandal on the VW’s trademark assets. Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley, Skoda or Seat are some of the trademarks that belong to VW group. The first step was given when the company announced its willing to solve this problem, setting aside around 6.5 billion euros to cope with service costs and other expenses, as compensations.

It will be interesting to see whether VW group will change its IP strategy on trademarks in order to re-gain consumers trust.

 


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