SmartSky Beats Gogo’s Patent Challenge

SmartSky Networks announces that it has summarily defeated industry incumbent Gogo’s challenge brought before the US Patent & Trademark Office (‘USPTO’) nearly six months ago, proving SmartSky’s longstanding position that its ‘947 patent, which covers some of the most essential features of a 5G air-to-ground (‘ATG’) network, like beamforming and seamless cell tower handoffs, was and shall remain valid.

“Gogo has been proven unequivocally wrong in its challenge. We continue to believe they will have great difficulty commercializing their future 5G network without infringing on SmartSky’s expansive intellectual property portfolio,” said SmartSky Chairman and CEO Haynes Griffin. “Gogo has said many times in the past that our IP didn’t matter and wasn’t valid.  The fact that Gogo bothered to challenge this patent clearly indicates that our IP does in fact matter.  Moreover, the fact that the USPTO ruled in SmartSky’s favor based only on a subset of SmartSky’s opening arguments reinforces the strength of this patent since it was likely targeted due to a combination of its relevance and Gogo’s perception of their own likelihood of success. Furthermore, this ruling reaffirms the strength of SmartSky’s entire portfolio.  Now everyone can know that Gogo’s assertions have been thoroughly debunked.”

In dismissing Gogo’s challenge, the USPTO ruled that Gogo “has not demonstrated a reasonable likelihood of prevailing in demonstrating that at least one challenged claim” among the 20 claims of the patent, is unpatentable.

“This win comes in a forum that statistically favored Gogo, and was made in connection with an asset Gogo likely handpicked for attack with the best shot that they could take.  The failure of their effort this early in the process is both a repudiation of the baseless claims Gogo has made regarding our patent portfolio in the past, and an important validation of our claims to the contrary.  That said, we understand that the importance of our portfolio may dictate further challenges, and we remain poised to defend both the portfolio and the intellectual property it protects,” said SmartSky President Ryan Stone.

In April 2020, Gogo challenged one (No. 9,312,947) of SmartSky’s now more than 180 patents supporting its in-deployment, next generation ATG network with 5G technologies.  SmartSky had three months to respond, which it did, and the USPTO then had three months to determine whether Gogo’s challenge was worth further review. It was not.

With this decisive win behind it, SmartSky is focused on finishing its network deployment and launching commercially in 2021.  “The market leader tried to undercut SmartSky, but justice has been served and the little guy has won this battle,” Stone said. “We are an innovation driven company and have developed key enabling technologies to transform connectivity in aviation.  The USPTO ruling rightfully affirms the intellectual property protection SmartSky has earned on just one of the many patents we’ve developed critical to advancing inflight connectivity.”


Gogo

Gogo Business Aviation commented on the decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) not to review U.S. Patent No. 9,312,947 (“the ‘947 patent”) granted to SmartSky Networks, LLC. As previously, disclosed Gogo requested that the PTO examine the validity of the 947 patent. “We disagree with the PTO’s decision not to review the 947 patent,” said Sergio Aguirre, president of Gogo Business Aviation. “To be clear, Gogo reiterates our strong belief that we are not infringing any valid patent held by SmartSky. Furthermore, neither the PTO’s decision nor SmartSky’s patent portfolio in any way impairs our ability to continue to successfully expand, to launch Gogo 5G or to enhance our position in the business aviation market. Today, our systems are flying on more than 5,550 business jets, including more than 1,000 AVANCE L5 systems and nearly 450 L3 systems providing connectivity to business aircraft of all types and sizes.” Aguirre continued, “We are committed to continuing to set the standard for inflight connectivity in business aviation as we progress toward the launch of Gogo 5G and further enhance the scale and profitability of our Business Aviation segment.”


Astronics

Astronics Corporation announced the rollout of the new AP-MARS, or AutoPoint Multi-Axis Robotic System, an automated circuit card troubleshooting and test development system. The system adds flying probe technology to the existing PinPoint series of circuit card troubleshooting and test systems, delivering test, maintenance and schematic generation all in one system.
AP-MARS enables users to maintain and repair electronic assemblies without the availability of technical data. The system also works well with obsolete or aging systems with little to no original equipment manufacturer (OEM) support. By automating the capabilities of the PinPoint system, AP-MARS eliminates human error associated with mis-probing and significantly reduces the probing process time and number of touches per pin. Using Circuit Interrogation Analysis (CIA), the system employs a set of algorithms to identify nodal groups and verify the signal path for each net, reducing the number of probing iterations by over 80%.
“For many years, PinPoint has established a proven capability to generate schematics for circuit cards and has become an invaluable tool for the defense industry,” says Jim Mulato, President of Astronics Test Systems. “AP-MARS leverages our commitment to support legacy equipment while integrating forward-looking technology, enabling our customers to become more efficient.”

PinPoint was originally developed by Diagnosys which was acquired by Astronics Corporation in November 2019 and is now incorporated into the Astronics Test Systems (ATS) business.

For complete AP-MARS product details, to view the datasheet, or to request a quote, please visit Astronics.com.


Panasonic

Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) has unveiled the “Welcome Aboard Collection”a selection of inflight products and solutions designed to help airlines address passenger concerns during COVID-19. The Collection can be customized to an airline’s existing fleet. It consists of both inflight entertainment (IFE) elements and other solutions designed to help augment airlines’ efforts to create a safer and healthier travel experience, while reducing costs and reinforcing their commitment to the passenger and their crew. Other solutions in the Collection help airlines to reduce touchpoints through smarter “less touch” technology such as Onboard Reader to digitize print publications and Companion App to integrate the passengers’ trusted personal device into the IFE experience. This can help ensure that seat back IFE consoles are complementary to the traveler’s personal devices, thus limiting passengers’ touch while still enabling the full IFE experience.

The Collection also includes solutions to enhance the cabin experience and deliver care through wellness solutions such as the nanoe™ Air Cleanser, which improves air quality by generating nano-sized electrostatic atomized water particles that can suppress odors and inhibit certain viruses, bacteria, and allergens.
Ken Sain, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, says: “These are challenging times for the airline industry, and we have leveraged our proven track record in digital innovation in the aircraft cabin to deliver solutions that can help make travel a safer experience for passengers and cabin crew.”

The Collection includes other innovative solutions such as Active Surfaces that allow for easy wipe-down from flight-to-flight and ZeroTouchTM services, which enable airlines to administer content updates remotely, greatly reducing the manual labor and physical presence typically associated with these efforts.


Boeing News

The Boeing Company named B. Marc Allen as chief strategy officer and senior vice president, Strategy and Corporate Development, reporting to President and CEO David Calhoun. The company also announced Christopher Raymond as the company’s chief sustainability officer, a newly created position reporting to Executive Vice President, Enterprise Operations and Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith. The appointments are effective Oct. 1. Allen, first appointed to the company’s Executive Council in 2014 as president of Boeing International, will now take on responsibility for the enterprise’s overarching strategy, including long-term planning; global business and corporate development; and strategic investments, acquisitions and divestitures. He most recently served as president of Embraer Partnership and Group Operations, leading the associated business and integration teams, before terminating the partnership in April 2020. Before joining the Executive Council, Allen served in leadership positions across the enterprise as president of Boeing Capital Corporation, president of Boeing China, vice president for Global Law Affairs and general counsel to Boeing International.

As Boeing’s first chief sustainability officer, Raymond will be responsible for further advancing Boeing’s approach to sustainability that is focused on environmental, social and governance priorities, stakeholder-oriented reporting and company performance. Operating within the Enterprise Operations, Finance and Sustainability organization, Raymond will lead a team that collaborates across Boeing’s commercial, defense and services businesses and its enterprise functions in support of the company’s commitment to responsible and inclusive business practices and positive global impact.

“Despite our current headwinds, we remain focused on innovating and operating to help make the world a better place for future generations,” Smith said. “Chris will partner with Dave, myself and the entire Executive Council to bring together our efforts toward environmental stewardship, social progress and values-driven governance from across the enterprise and deliver a truly integrated focus on sustainability. Appointing a chief sustainability officer is an important next step as we continue to elevate and sharpen our focus on sustainability in partnership with our customers as well as across Boeing’s operations, throughout our supply chain and in our communities. Chris is the right person for the job.”

Boeing also announced $700,000 in grants from the Boeing Charitable Trust to help local communities with the ongoing humanitarian and environmental crisis caused by wildfires burning along the West Coast of the United States. Boeing is providing $500,000 to the American Red Cross to support its fire relief efforts in Washington, Oregon and California. Additionally, Boeing is donating $200,000 to provide food assistance in these states where significant numbers of the company’s employees live and work. $100,000 is being given to Northwest Harvest in Washington, and $50,000 apiece to the Oregon Food Bank and Redwood Empire Food Bank in California. “Thousands of our families, friends and neighbors have been displaced around the west,” said Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes and the company’s senior executive in the region. “We are committed to helping them through this exceptionally challenging time.” Boeing’s grant to the Red Cross will provide shelter, food and essentials for those who have been displaced from their homes due to the wildfires. These funds will also assist in the ongoing evacuation and aid delivery response in impacted communities. Consistent with Boeing employee gift match programs, the company will also match qualifying employee contributions made to eligible nonprofits for wildfire relief efforts.

On another note, Boeing announced a firm order from an unidentified customer for two 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighters (BCF), as well as agreements to open additional conversion lines in Guangzhou, China, and Singapore to meet strong market demand. Based on the popular Next-Generation 737, the 737-800BCF offers operators newer technology, lower fuel consumption and higher reliability than other standard-body freighters. Primarily used to carry express cargo on domestic or short-haul routes, the airplane is capable of carrying up to 23.9 tonnes (52,800 pounds) and flying up to 2,000 nautical miles (3,750 kilometers). The 737-800BCF now has 134 orders and commitments. To date, Boeing has delivered 36 737-800BCF to more than 10 operators across four continents. The Boeing freighter family, which includes production and converted freighters, provides more than 90 percent of the world’s freighter capacity, offering an unmatched selection of capacity and capability with superior economics in every freighter size.


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