Sutherland’s decades of advising the automotive industry give us a unique understanding of the issues that industry participants face every day.

Sutherland delivers practical advice and legal representation to the leaders of the automotive industry in all aspects of their business.

Sutherland provides skilled representation to clients in all sectors of the automotive industry. Clients include a majority of the top 25 automotive manufacturers and/or distributors in the United States, the world’s leading remarketer of motor vehicles, leading automotive marketplace websites, software providers, lenders and financial services companies. We represent automotive industry clients in litigation and provide advice on corporate transactions, finance, regulatory, tax, commercial contracts and intellectual property matters. Our automotive clients routinely operate across state and national borders and on the Internet. They are often relying on, creating or selling cutting-edge technology, and we are adept at navigating the traditional world of automotive regulation in a sophisticated technological business environment.

Sutherland’s Automotive Litigation and Counseling team advises manufacturers, franchisors, auctions, websites, technology providers and other automotive industry participants. We develop sales and licensing agreements and forms and manage disputes at all levels to resolve issues proactively. When litigation cannot be avoided, our trial lawyers advocate on behalf of automotive clients in virtually every type of judicial, administrative and alternative dispute resolution proceeding.

Our transactional attorneys represent industry leaders, as well as strategic and private equity investors, in significant and complex transactions (both domestic and international), including mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and other strategic partnerships. We regularly advise our automotive clients in connection with their strategic and operational relationships, and are regularly called upon to structure, draft and negotiate marketing contracts, restrictive covenant agreements, software licensing and software as a service (SaaS) agreements, and supply chain, procurement and logistics contracts. Our transactional lawyers also have significant experience with automotive finance transactions, including consumer and floorplan lending.

Our automotive team also includes deep regulatory experience, and our attorneys advise clients in connection with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) supervisory examinations, investigations and enforcement actions. Our regulatory lawyers have developed contacts with legacy bank regulators, state credit offices and insurance commissioners with jurisdiction over installment lending, and we monitor consumer financial legal developments.  Our attorneys literally wrote the book on CFPB Regulation and maintain, which provides real-time updates on the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010. 

Follow Sutherland's Automotive team on Twitter at @Sutherland_Auto.

Why Sutherland?

Full service. We offer a complete suite of legal services, including a full range of litigation support, corporate advice, tax and intellectual property representation.

Industry understanding. Our Automotive Counseling and Litigation team touches all aspects of the industry. We represent manufacturers, franchisees, automotive financial services companies, parts distributors, vehicle auctioneers, websites and technology partners for the industry. This experience gives Sutherland a breadth and depth of knowledge that is the foundation of each of our client relationships.

Bottom-line focus. We know our clients are in business and are accountable for bottom-line results. We tailor our legal advice and litigation strategies to achieve the best possible result in harmony with the client’s commercial interests.

History of success. Sutherland’s insight into how the industry has developed over the years benefits our clients whether we are advising on compliance matters, merger agreements, negotiating contracts or fighting for our clients in litigation.

Proactive advice. We share current regulatory developments and identify proven industry practices to assist clients in integrating new business practices operationally.

Prevention. Our automotive counseling and litigation attorneys operate on the business relationships. To that end, we work to head off problems that can become lengthy and expensive actions.

Nuts and Bolts

Our automotive services include:

  • Defending complex litigation claims and investigations—contractual, statutory, business tort, consumer credit, employment, antitrust, unfair competition, real estate and regulatory
  • Terminating franchisee-dealers, including performance and fraud-based terminations
  • Counseling on licensing needs and state and federal regulatory compliance, including NHTSA, DMV, privacy and consumer protection regulations
  • Assessing and negotiating collateral priority disputes under the UCC and intercreditor agreements
  • Responding to and contesting government investigative and private party subpoenas
  • Lender liability litigation with dealers, trustees and other creditors
  • Assessing and pursuing violations of non-compete and non-disclosure agreements
  • Class action defense of retail and lease consumer law claims of all types
  • Counseling manufacturers on expanding or establishing dealer networks in the United States
  • Perfecting and protecting intellectual property, through licensing agreements and NDAs and through trademarks and patents (prosecution and domestication)
  • Counseling on trademark usage requirements and restrictions
  • Advising on and drafting exclusive dealing arrangements
  • Establishing franchise controls (including pricing, territorial and customer restrictions)
  • Drafting and defending franchise location and exclusive area covenants
  • Defending patent troll infringement claims and counseling clients regarding third party patents
  • Conducting patent clearance studies for new products and services
  • Preparing sales agreements, disclosures and other business forms, with automotive regulatory requirements in mind

Take Action

Sutherland’s depth of involvement in the automotive industry complements the substantive win record achieved on behalf of our clients in court proceedings, before arbitration panels and in negotiations with third parties.

Selected Experience

    Our Story

    Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP is an international law firm helping the Fortune 100, industry leaders, sector innovators and business entrepreneurs solve their biggest challenges and reach their business goals. Dedicated to unfaltering excellence in client service, we are known for our business savvy and industry intelligence, providing creative and custom solutions for each of our clients. Industry and business experience makes the difference for our clients.

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