Jos van der Wijst, BG.Legal
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Yesterday, after years of voting, deliberating, and voting again, European lawmakers passed the AI Act. With this landmark law on artificial intelligence (AI), the European Parliament is taking another step toward regulating AI. Companies have until 2026 to comply.

At law firm BG.Legal, requests involving AI are rapidly flowing in. Just waiting is usually not the best choice, Jos van der Wijst emphasizes. “From the moment you know that your firm’s work is going to be covered by new legislation, you have to take the requirements into account. If you don’t incorporate that into your processes now, you are guaranteed to be able to redo all your work later.”

Why this is important

As the European Parliament passed the EU AI Act, companies have time until 2026 to comply with the new rules. Legal firm BG.Legal is helping businesses in the Eindhoven region abide by the new law, whose impact goes beyond the tech sector.

Van der Wijst specializes in trademark law, intellectual property (IP), IT privacy, know-how and patent law. With a total of 25 lawyers and jurists, BG.Legal is based in Den Bosch and on the Brainport Industries Campus (BIC). Van der Wijst and his team can help with drafting cooperation agreements, questions around personnel issues (“What should I do if someone is sick for a long time?” or “What about dismissal law?”), but also, companies can turn to a lawyer if they want to protect their product or technology.

AI Act also impacts the manufacturing industry

In the high-tech manufacturing industry, the AI Act is probably initially less relevant than in some other sectors, Van der Wijst said. “Regardless, all companies get questions from insurers, suppliers, and customers. Things like facial recognition or certain sensitive personal data you might not encounter as much in the high-tech manufacturing industry, but that is offset by, for example, cybersecurity, which is subject to tough boardroom liability. Or, also topical, the rules surrounding Euro-American export regulations.”

Jos van der Wijst

Concrete examples Van der Wijst can cite with great ease. “Here in Eindhoven, companies are already working on applications to use sensors to follow the employees’ movements in the factory in order to provide advice from there around the ideal positioning of people and machines. From there, the most desirable routing will be determined. To do that, you have to record people’s movements; everyone can figure out that this gives you data that touches on employees’ privacy. In other words, even for such an application, this law will come into play at some point. So yes, it will also be relevant to the manufacturing industry.”

For questions around AI, BG.Legal founded its own knowledge platform, Legal AIR, six years ago with a grant from Brainport. Here, clients find information on the legal and ethical aspects of AI. The Dutch AI Coalition has embraced the platform. “And with a consortium from Brainport, we have also developed an AI Compliance Check: a test to assess whether an AI application complies with the European AI Act. To be honest, not everyone is doing this yet by a long shot. You can compare it to the arrival of the GDPR at the time. A number of parties had prepared themselves well for it, but the majority were only concerned about it just before those regulations came into force or even after. I think many companies don’t yet know what the AI Act will mean for them. And in part, I can imagine that we don’t even have the final text yet.”

Data Law Hub

The AI Act is not the only legislation Van der Wijst’s clients need to prepare for. “In the Data Law Hub, we have listed all the important laws and regulations that may have an impact. This makes it relatively easy for clients to see which parts of laws such as the Data Act, Digital Services Act, GDPR, and privacy and cyber regulations apply. After all, we understand it can still be difficult for people to see the forest for the trees.”

For the legal profession, confidentiality is crucial. So when BG.Legal moved into Brainport Industries Campus (BIC), the Bar Association raised some eyebrows: how can you guarantee confidentiality when all the walls of your office are made of glass? Jos van der Wijst, one of the lawyers now working at BIC on behalf of BG.Legal, has the answer: “By not allowing a shred of paper on the desks and consistently sticking to it.”

Pleased with BIC

Van der Wijst is pleased that BG.Legal went with BIC when choosing the new office. “You can see through all those open windows here that people are working on products. At most, we produce paper; that’s precisely why we love seeing real things being made here. Machines, parts of machines. The threshold is very low to walk in and start a conversation. The openness of this building also stimulates that enormously: having lunch together, even the meetings in the parking garage help. That’s really an important reason why I enjoy working here at BIC so much.”

For the celebration of BG.Legal’s 50th anniversary, BIC was chosen as the venue, and for good reason. On March 21, there will be a big event with AI as the central theme. “It’s not a legal gathering, but one that will be of interest to everyone here on campus and beyond. We are going to look at the possibilities of artificial intelligence with an optimistic mindset and are very happy that we were able to get none other than Jarno Duursma for the keynote. In addition, we are giving three or four local initiatives the stage. One of them is Dembrane, a start-up that uses artificial intelligence to focus on improvements in local democracy.”

A limited number of tickets are still available for the anniversary event. Sign up, while supplies last, here.