Gogo wins initial legal spat over 5G
February 2, 2024
By Chris Forrester
In-Flight communications specialist Gogo Business Aviation has won an appeal held at the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and which upheld an earlier verdict at the US District Court in Delaware and which involved denying SmartSky Networks’ motion for preliminary injunction against Gogo Business Aviation to keep it from selling its Gogo 5G product.
The dispute centred on a patent infringement claim by SmartSky, although SmartSky continues to affirm that its claim remains valid, commenting: “The appellate decision was based solely on the issue of irreparable harm and did not address any of SmartSky’s patent infringement claims at this preliminary stage of the case.”
SmartSky says it continues to expect it will be fully vindicated in its patent rights claims as the case moves forward and expects to secure a permanent injunction and substantial damages as a result of the trial scheduled for April 2025.
The initial Delaware court found that SmartSky had failed to establish that it is likely to succeed on the merits of its claims, and that it is likely to suffer irreparable harm if a preliminary injunction is not granted. The reviewing court – the Federal Circuit – affirmed that decision.
“The District Court found that SmartSky failed to establish that it is likely to succeed on the merits of its claims, and we agree,” said Oakleigh Thorne, Gogo’s CEO. “We will continue to vigorously defend Gogo against SmartSky’s patent infringement claims. We remain steadfast in our belief that we do not infringe upon the patents in question and expect to ultimately prevail. We remain focused on successfully launching Gogo 5G and delivering improved performance for our business aviation customers in 2024 and beyond.”
As a background, in July of 2022, SmartSky announced the nationwide availability of its inflight Internet network based on groundbreaking, patented technology that significantly outperforms any other previous or currently available air-to-ground solution in North America. In contrast, since 2008 Gogo has announced plans for at least four upgrades to its 3G-based technology.
“As SmartSky argued in its complaint, after failing to follow-through on those, Gogo abruptly announced in 2016 that it was changing course, and instead chose to market and sell Gogo 5G, a product that is substantially similar to SmartSky’s air-to-ground network. SmartSky is confident the jury will agree that Gogo’s actions are a clear, obvious, and wilful infringement, even if the Gogo 5G network is still inactive as noted by the Court of Appeals,” argues SmartSky.