Patent Lawsuit Against AOPA Tossed

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A U.S. District Court judge in Oregon has dismissed a patent infringement lawsuit against the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). District Judge Marco Hernández dismissed the lawsuit, brought by SD Holdings, LLC, for lack of personal jurisdiction. In its $66 million lawsuit, SD Holdings claimed that FlyQ Web, a free-to-members flight planning tool, infringed two patents. But Judge Hernández dismissed the case on the grounds that it should never have been filed in Oregon. “It’s unfortunate that AOPA has been forced to spend an entire year and significant resources defending itself against meritless claims in a lawsuit that should never have been filed,” said Ken Mead, AOPA’s general counsel. “We hope this will be an end to the issue, but AOPA has not violated any patents and we are prepared to vigorously fight any future claims SD Holdings might bring.”

Because the case was dismissed without prejudice, SD Holdings can refile its lawsuit in another jurisdiction. If it is refiled in another jurisdiction, the new court can consider rulings on sanctions against SD Holdings that were made deferred. Also, even if SD Holdings does not file the lawsuit again, the Oregon court could still consider imposing the sanctions. Thus, there is still a possibility that SD Holdings could be required to reimburse AOPA for all legal fees and costs. The lawsuit against AOPA was not the first time SD Holdings had pursued patent infringement claims against an aviation organization. Previous efforts by Flight Prep, the only member of SD Holdings listed in its incorporation documents, targeted Jeppesen, NavMonster, and RunwayFinder.com. NavMonster and RunwayFinder.com have since shut down.