Unprecedented contributions demand unparalleled counsel.
In March 2012, explorer and filmmaker James Cameron piloted his Deepsea Challenger, a one-person submersible to the Mariana Trench, reaching the deepest place on earth at nearly 7 miles below the surface. Nine months later, Cameron decided to donate the sub to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), to further ocean science and exploration. As a long-time Goodwin client, WHOI turned to us to help facilitate the extraordinary donation.

Cameron sought to transfer the Deepsea Challenger to WHOI and scientists and engineers would work with Cameron and his team to incorporate the sub’s numerous engineering advancements into future research platforms and deep-sea expeditions. As a result, the multi-million dollar gift to WHOI involved not only the vehicle itself, but intellectual property rights, provisions for scientific and educational use, and ongoing funding. 

A team of attorneys from Goodwin’s tax-exempt organization, intellectual property, and corporate practices advised WHOI in the transaction, assisting with the structuring of the gift and with negotiating gift, endowment fund, and licensing agreements.

The sub arrived at WHOI in June 2013 after a cross-country journey and will be used by WHOI scientists to further advances in deep-sea exploration. WHOI recently created a new Center for Marine Robotics, which aims to spur collaborations across government, industry and academia to advance ocean science and exploration through the development of new robotic vehicles and technologies. “WHOI is a world leader in deep submergence,” said Cameron, who will also serve on the Center’s Advisory Board, “a place where the Deepsea Challenger system will be a living, breathing, and dynamic program going forward.”