Gogo Business Aviation CEO Oakleigh Thorne says the company will "vigorously defend" itself "against SmartSky's patent infringement claims while at the same time remaining focused on launching Gogo 5G and delivering improved performance for its business aviation customers in 2024 and beyond.
In response to a Jan. 31 Federal Circuit Court of Appeals decision, which did not reverse a District Court denial of a preliminary injunction, SmartSky reaffirms the merits of its patent infringement case against Gogo Business Aviation originally filed in February 2022. The appellate decision was based on the issue of irreparable harm and did not address SmartSky's patent infringement claims at this preliminary stage of the case.
The court disposition provides background. Gogo and SmartSky are competitors as business aviation network providers, both offering air-to-ground (ATG) networks that provide broadband in-flight internet connections to aircraft. On Feb. 28, 2022, SmartSky sued Gogo, alleging that Gogo’s 5G network infringes claims of SmartSky’s U.S. patents. At the time of the latest filings with the court, Gogo’s 5G network was not yet operational.
On the same day as filing the complaint, SmartSky moved to preliminary enjoin Gogo from making, using, offering to sell, or selling its 5G network. SmartSky asserted that it was likely to suffer irreparable harm absent a preliminary injunction. On September 26, 2022, the district court denied SmartSky’s motion for preliminary injunction, finding SmartSky had not established a likelihood of success on the merits for any of the asserted patents and had not shown that it was likely to suffer irreparable harm. SmartSky then filed an appeal.
In summary, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, said: "We conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that SmartSky has failed to satisfy its burden to establish a likelihood of irreparable harm."
Both SmartSky and Gogo issued news releases following the Jan. 31 appellate court decision:
Appellate Court Upholds District Court Denial of SmartSky's Attempt to Prevent Gogo Business Aviation from Selling its 5G Solution
Gogo Business Aviation announced that the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has upheld the decision by the United States District Court for the District of Delaware denying SmartSky Networks' motion for preliminary injunction against Gogo Business Aviation to keep it from selling its Gogo 5G product.
The Delaware court found that SmartSky 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 Thorne. "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."
In response to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals decision today, which did not reverse a District Court denial of a preliminary injunction, SmartSky reaffirms the merits of its patent infringement case (C.A. No. 22-266-GBW) against Gogo Business Aviation originally filed in February of 2022. 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.
A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary measure because it stops a company from using and selling stolen patented technology during the pendency of the case. While preliminary injunctions are rarely granted, SmartSky was compelled to seek such extraordinary relief given the allegations ofGogo's egregious infringement.
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 willful infringement, even if the Gogo 5G network is still inactive as noted by the Court of Appeals.
SmartSky 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.