Bangalore 26th, June 2019: Berkeley Legal Society (BLS) in association with industry partners Kawa Space & Spice Route Consulting hosted academics, venture capital funds, investors, startups, lawyers, BFSI firms, government space agencies and media engaged in the space industry to an exchange of ideas on the future of space activity for private players in India.
Taking the Space Activities Bill in the background, the agenda for the day’s discussions revolved around Liability & Intellectual Property, which are particularly important topics for commercial space activity.
The first panel, on the liability of the organisations, and investors engaged in space activities was enlightening as Gaurav Chaudhry of Marsh India spoke of how the liability arises for signatory countries from the international space conventions and how this liability is proposed to be passed on to the private players for private commercial activities. Aubin Gonzalez Lapos - Chairman of BLS, discussed how the private Indian space industry could be supported to address the challenges of a Global competitive room and a market intrinsically risky. Aubin suggested both disruptive legal & business strategies to define a new Indian space model and International legal paradigm. Aubin advised that government, bank, space industry per se and insurance firms should come together to create a sustainable solution for the segmenting liability for startups in this sector. Aubin gave examples: (i) Galileo risk case related to satellite operating contract; (ii) Skynet 5 model related to financing PPP options; (iii) French Government threshold of up to 60 million euros to cover startup liability for damages caused. Vishesh Rajaram’s views on the subject of liability bring hope to aspiring space entrepreneurs as he stated that early stage funds like Speciale Invest aren’t scared by the liability or risk involved in the sector and they look forward to what is posed to be a thriving ecosystem.
Both startups at the table, Xovian & Agnikul Cosmos expressed a need for the DoS, DIPP, & NITI Aayog to come together and rework their policy in order to foster a robust ecosystem for space startups.
The second panel on intellectual property was moderated by Kumar Abhijeet, Assistant Professor at NLSIU who highlighted the fact that the limit of outer space is not currently unequivocally defined. Kris Nair spoke of how Intellectual Property for a startup like Kawa Space forms the crux of their business and that ownership is a crucial question to foster private companies research & development efforts. Dr Laurence Loumes noted that none of the international space conventions currently outline ownership and infringement of Intellectual Property in space. Rafael Pereira, IP Strategist & Convenor of the event added that from a monetization, commercialisation, and compliance standpoint the place of registration of copyright is vital and for that India offers more than adequate protection. She mentioned further that to remedy this deficiency, some countries like the US and France have carved out certain safe harbours for inventions meant for use in space. Saurabh Bhattacharya of PwC emphasized that legislation should be a means to support a steady growth for the sector.
The main takeaways of the day’s discussions were that the private industry engaged in space activities is growing in India at a fast pace, and that actors from all sides ought to be joining forces into shaping together the legal framework around these commercial activities. This is an exciting time for India which possesses all the resources to be at the forefront of the commercial activities in outer space.
About BLS: BLS is an international organization composed of engaged persons educated at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. We have a direct presence in 80 countries focusing on multiple practice area cohorts. Our purpose is to unlock intelligence and human capital all over the world. We build corridors between nations by organizing events, conferences and Galas. In 2019 alone, such events will take place in thirty countries. We create impacting ecosystems by including key stakeholders of industries, NGOs, and Governments. In addition to the said commitments, BLS has strong endeavours pursuant to energy, environmental, and Human Rights concerns as a duty to transfer a better world to the next generation. You can find more details on our website, https://berkeleylegalsociety.org/en/
This is the first of many impact-oriented events that BLS plans to organize to engage with the space ecosystem in India and across the world.