Law and IT represent very specific and demanding disciplines, which mainly call for a thorough approach. We encounter both areas on a daily basis both in personal and working life. It is the latter that may impose a challenge striving for compliance with legislation along with keeping up with digital technologies. Jan Kuklinca, attorney at Deloitte Legal knows something about that. He focuses on IT law and assists clients in the areas of digital signatures, software licenses or intellectual property protection. In the interview, we asked him what the work in such a specific legal field was like.
Thank you for coming today, Jan. So, tell me a little bit about your background.
Guitar? Were you any good?
I thought so at the time, but my friends disagreed.
Well, I did complete classical guitar school, but I didn’t ever join a professional band.
And how did playing the guitar connect to your current profession?
Basically, playing the guitar is all about making music, and music, of course, revolves around copyright protection. So, when I was studying towards my law degree at Charles University I wanted to go into the nuances of intellectual property law. Issues such as, when I, for example, take a part of another person’s song, or gain some inspiration from that, when is this new work still considered to be my own, rather than simply stolen?
Yes, I understand that there are some intricacies in this when you look deeper.
Indeed, and then the pace of technological change has accelerated. 10-15 years ago, copyright law was more about music and literary works protection, while nowadays it is much more about protection and licensing of software.
OK, I see, and what brought you specifically to joining Deloitte Legal as a member of our Digital Team?
I’m happy to say that I’ve been with Deloitte Legal now for just over three years. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to develop the IP/IT practice…
And, with some success it seems.
Well, I hope so. We’ve done some great things.
We supported one of the largest manufacturing employers in the Czech Republic, in switching from their traditional production business to the business driven by use and sale of digital services provided through those products.
What does that mean exactly?
Well, rather than have a business model where the revenue comes from the one-off sale of a product, it is now possible to have a business model where higher revenues will be through the sale of associated digital products over the lifetime of the use of the physical product itself.
That’s quite a different model, isn’t it?
Yes, and as you can imagine this does bring a lot of legal challenges.
What kind of issues could manufacturers encounter in switching their business models in this way?
It is critical to switch your mind-set, and to view your business much like an IT company.
How do you mean?
Well, suddenly you need to start thinking in terms of Agile Development, software IT support, data monetization, virtual reality, digital sales channels, and so on.
So, there is whole range of new issues to take into consideration, and, I suppose, plenty of new mistakes that can be made, potentially disrupting business operations, even?
Yes, that’s right. This is especially true for the data part. It is imperative to address privacy issues at the earliest stages of commencing a project. A lot of companies have not grasped the importance of designing their digital products in such a way so that they properly protect the personal data of their customers from the very start, and then don’t have to later spend a ton of money in fixing privacy issues which become apparent later.
That means, I think, that the Digital Team don’t only explain the law to their clients, about copyright and such like, but you also assist the clients with insight into how to design their products.
Yes, for instance, clients very often approach us with a request to draft a bullet-proof software licensing agreement, and while we always do our best, we also make sure to consult additional protective measures which are not only legal but also technical. A client might neglect the importance of in-built software protection, be it a license key, or a digital signature on the software, or the ability to perform a licensing audit. Sometimes it is even better to switch to different types of software distribution.
OK, good. So, in conclusion, do you have any last words that you would like to share with our audience?
As you can see there are hidden pitfalls along the way to moving a company towards digitization, and keeping it on track. At Deloitte Legal, we are lucky to have such a wonderful team of smart Digital Law colleagues, passionate about what they do, and with real hands-on experience across various industries. Our team is large, with eight lawyers, and hence each of the colleagues is able to focus on some specific niche areas of Digital expertise: Artificial Intelligence, Information & Communication Technology, Virtual Reality, Personal Data Privacy, E-Commerce, Electronic Identity & Electronic Signatures, Software Contracts, or E-Sports etc.
Wow, it certainly sounds like whatever Digital Law issues the client has, the team will be able to help them.
And I can add that they manage to explain complex IT issues in Plain English, which I find quite useful since I’m not an IT person at all!
Yes, we do our best to make things clear for non-specialists. Otherwise combining law and IT could create quite a barrier for most clients to understand what was being said!
OK, that sounds good. Thank you for your time, Jan!