Spacetech has become a massive industry. It attracted $8.9bn investment in 2022 and that is down 25 per cent on 2021. Particular focus was on companies building hardware to underpin space applications and satellite-based data analysis.
Whilst the majority of that investment came from the US, the UK Space Agency announced a fund of £50m to “supercharge the UK’s satellite communications industry” and become “a leading power in space”.
KEY LEGAL ISSUES
Those are some of the headline figures but this article is focusing on some of the key UK legal issues. These include:
- Liability: In the event of a space-related accident, it can be challenging to determine who is liable for any resulting harm. This is a complex legal issue that is governed by international treaties, national legislation, and common law principles.
- Intellectual property: The protection of intellectual property rights in space is an important issue for companies involved in spacetech. This can include issues related to the ownership of data collected in space, as well as the protection of technology and innovations.
- Regulation: Spacetech is a highly regulated industry, and companies operating in this field must comply with a range of legal requirements, including licensing and safety regulations. Companies must also comply with international treaties and national legislation governing the use of outer space.
- Data protection: The collection, use, and storage of data in space is subject to a range of data protection laws, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Companies must ensure that they are compliant with these laws and that they have appropriate measures in place to protect the privacy of individuals.
- Contractual Issues: There are many players in this field and myriad contractual relationships and issues that may arise, notably:
- Collaboration agreements: Collaboration is a key aspect of the spacetech industry, and companies often enter into collaboration agreements to work together on projects and initiatives. These agreements must be carefully drafted to ensure that the rights and responsibilities of each party are clearly defined and that the commercial interests of each party are protected.
- Procurement contracts: Companies involved in spacetech may enter into procurement contracts to purchase goods and services from suppliers. These contracts must be carefully drafted to ensure that the terms of delivery, payment, and quality control are clearly defined and that the parties are aware of their obligations.
- Service level agreements: Companies involved in spacetech may enter into service level agreements to provide services to customers. These agreements must be carefully drafted to ensure that the terms of delivery and quality control are clearly defined and that the parties are aware of their obligations.
For further information, please contact Simon Halberstam, head of technology law at SMB – firstname.lastname@example.org