Six months ago SmartSky triumphed in defending a key patent from challenge by Gogo. Now the upstart is going on the offensive. The company filed suit this week, claiming the Gogo 5G offering “relies on at least 4 patents held by SmartSky.”
The suit seeks a preliminary injunction to block Gogo from offering or selling the Gogo 5G product. Furthermore, SmartSky seeks damages from Gogo for the infringement.
After years of desperately trying to acquire more licensed spectrum, Gogo abruptly changed course and copied SmartSky’s approach of using unlicensed spectrum.– A SmartSky claim in the lawsuit
SmartSky cites four key patents in its suit, part of its portfolio of more than 150 patents around the globe. The four in question include patent number 9,312,947, which Gogo challenged last year. Gogo lost that challenge and did not appeal. With the patent now reaffirmed by the US Patent and Trademark Office, SmartSky aims to demonstrate that Gogo’s proposed 5G offering willfully violates the protected technology.
For its part, Gogo repeatedly has claimed over the years its product does not violate any valid patents. The company reiterated that position in a statement regarding this specific lawsuit:
Gogo previously completed a thorough review of SmartSky’s patent portfolio, including each of the four patents at issue in the complaint, with support from its engineering team and outside patent counsel. Based on that review, Gogo believes that SmartSky’s claims are entirely without merit. Gogo intends to vigorously defend itself against these allegations and remains committed to an on time rollout of its 5G platform later this year.
The technologies included in the four patents cover the deployment of overlapping radio footprints, beam forming, spectrum reuse, and more. These technologies are key to the more efficient and secure delivery of bandwidth to aircraft. If upheld, the patents could prevent Gogo from deploying infringing offerings into the middle of the next decade, according to SmartSky’s claims.
SmartSky expects a ruling on its request for a preliminary injunction in the coming months, before Gogo 5G was expected to go live. The broader lawsuit is expected to take years to resolve.
More Gogo/SmartSky drama:
- SmartSky triumphs over Gogo in patent challenge
- Gogo 5G test network now online
- Gogo boasts 25 Mbps per plane (or more!) for new 5G network
- SmartSky goes live!
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Beamforming, Spectrum Reuse and Overlapping footprints are all baked into the 5G standard. Even 80211ax wifi uses these same technologies. Is SmartSky trying to claim they own 5G?
Seth Miller says
But is the way they’re implemented for aero considered a public standard or validly patented technology? I, too, question some of the claims. The filing suggests that pointing the tower antennae towards the horizon instead of up at the planes is patented, despite that being how the existing ATG network has run for a decade.
But, at least thus far, the USPTO has held that the patents are valid. A preliminary injunction could be a huge blow to Gogo if it comes through.