As it developed a new, high-speed, terrestrial inflight communications platform SmartSky also worked diligently to develop a broad intellectual property portfolio. The company hit 150 patents issued in January 2020 and even hosts a separate website dedicated to tracking the portfolio. The patents are intended, among other things, to help the company fend off competition from Gogo, the larger incumbent player in the market. Today Gogo fired its first salvo against that patent portfolio, seeking to invalidate one of the key patents behind the SmartSky network.
We strongly believe that the ‘947 patent granted to SmartSky is not valid. We have submitted evidence of published materials clearly showing that well before SmartSky asserts to have invented the concepts in the ‘947 patent, others had conceived of the claimed subject matter.– Sergio Aguirre, president Gogo Business Aviation
Gogo’s request of an inter partes review of U.S. Patent No. 9,312,947 (“the ‘947 patent”) could see it revoked, removing the protections that the patent grants to SmartSky’s developments. Gogo also indicated that it could pursue the patent claims far more broadly. Sergio Aguirre, president Gogo Business Aviation, believes “there are many of SmartSky’s patents that are not valid. This is only one of many patents we could have challenged in a patent review.”
Simply put, this IPR filing is effectively an admission by Gogo that validates SmartSky’s longstanding position that our intellectual property is absolutely critical to the essential function of a next generation ATG network.– SmartSky president Ryan Stone
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Losing the protections on this front would open SmartSky up to greater competition, of course. But that competition was almost certain to come anyways. The exact form was unclear but the players well known. The company has three months to respond to the USPTO defending its position on the patent. From there the process could take up to 12 months for a decision to be handed down.
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