FlightPrep v. RunwayFinder and others (2010, USA)
As of Dec 10 2010, FlightPrep, a seller of aviation software, filed a patent infringement lawsuit against the www.RunwayFinder.com website, claiming damages of $3.2M per month.
RunwayFinder denied infringing and disputed the validity of the patent but had no money to "fight a lengthy legal battle with extremely expensive intellectual property lawyers."
RunwayFinder's Dave Parsons reported that FlightPrep representatives Kyle Everson and Roger Stenbock would not talk to RunwayFinder. RunwayFinder's blog
RunwayFinder claimed that Flightprep's lawyers at first demanded a licensing fee from RunwayFinder, then reneged on that and are now claiming US$3.2 million per month damages. RunwayFinder is a free service, so even paying a fee would have been difficult.
From Runwayfinder's blog:
"Looking over their patent application history, it looks like they had significant trouble getting this one past the U.S. Patent Office, including a “final rejection” notice. However, they modified their claims to include features that were in wide-spread use at the time of the amendment. Additionally, when they initially filed this patent application in September 2005, RunwayFinder was already online along with at least one other aeronautical chart viewing website. It appears they were able to use some slight-of-hand involving divisional patents to set the date back to 2001. It’s unfortunate that the U.S. patent process can be used in this manner to stifle innovation and entrepreneurship. More over, the last thing we as pilots need to be doing is attacking each other in court. We are a small and rapidly shrinking community that is already under siege from every side, user fees, airport closures, increased security requirements, rising fuel prices, just to name a few. I’m crafting a letter now to the patent examiner to invalidate this patent. The process will take too long to save RunwayFinder, but hopefully it helps the other websites out there."
RunwayFinder was forced to shut down.
 Related pages on en.swpat.org
- RunwayFinder now offline, 9 Dec 2010 - the blog post on which this article is mostly based
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