SmartSky Networks, LLC, has asked the U.S. District Court in Delaware to add two recently issued patents to its 2022 infringement lawsuit against Gogo Business Aviation, LLC, and Gogo Inc.
The newly amended complaint alleges that Gogo has been illegally selling and offering to sell its “5G,” airto-ground (ATG) internet connectivity product in violation of SmartSky’s patented inventions.
While SmartSky is confident Gogo infringes each of the six patents SmartSky is asserting, the two new patents are related to patents included in the original complaint and directly negate several of Gogo’s non-infringement arguments.
“We believe the patent system fosters innovation,” said SmartSky Networks President & Founder Ryan Stone.
“These new patents further protect our inventions from illegal use and make our infringement claims against Gogo even clearer for the court.
“Gogo hasn’t yet been able to get its ‘5G’ system fully operational due to manufacturing and other issues, but their selling and offering to sell this product based on our inventions is an obvious violation of the law.”
The new patents SmartSky asked to add to the suit include U.S. Patent Nos. 11,558,108 (“the ‘108 Patent”) and 11,533,639 (“the ‘639 Patent”) issued to SmartSky by the U.S. Patent & Trademark office on Jan. 17, 2023, and Dec. 20, 2022, respectively. The ‘108 Patent is part of a family of patents from inventor Donald Alcorn previously asserted in the lawsuit.
The claimed invention enables the “handoff” of a data communications link between an aircraft and a network of ground base stations.
The patent family covers both “soft,” known as make-before-break, and “hard,” or break-before-make, handoffs between base stations.
Gogo’s planned “5G” product will use hard, “break-before-make” handoffs that infringe on SmartSky technology, refuting this portion of Gogo’s non-infringement argument.
“Regardless of whether Gogo’s system uses a ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ handoff, it is still in violation of SmartSky’s patents,” said Stone.
“The ‘108 Patent is one of several SmartSky patents that cover both types of handoffs.
“Drawing any distinction between the type of handoff is simply a diversionary tactic by Gogo.”
The second new patent, the ‘639 Patent, is part of a family of patents from inventor Douglas Hyslop that together cover how base stations are arrayed in a wedge-shaped architecture in broadband, ATG wireless communications systems.
By mimicking SmartSky, Gogo’s system violates the ‘639 Patent, in part, because of the way its base stations, with their directional radiation coverage pattern, coordinate with each other in order to enable communication using licensed and unlicensed spectrum as the aircraft travels across base stations.
“For years Gogo has been trying to deliver internet to business jets through the licensed spectrum with what we believe are poor results,” said David Helfgott, SmartSky’s CEO.
“Now, SmartSky’s technological breakthroughs allow for a new way to provide faster and better connectivity and have redefined the premium inflight experience.
“It’s no surprise that others want to copy what we are doing.”
The amended complaint increases the number of patents at issue in the lawsuit from 4 to 6.
If the Court finds infringement of any one claim of any one patent, SmartSky would effectively win the case and Gogo could be permanently blocked from selling and operating its 5G system, which may include blocking the sale or use of the required Avance L5 system component, as well.
While the case proceeds, a separate panel of three federal appeals court judges are considering SmartSky’s motion for preliminary injunction that could immediately bar Gogo from selling its “5G” system. Their decision could come as soon as late Spring of this year.