1) NavMonster Closed
- (May 29 2012)
NavMonster, a popular free online GA flight planning and information site, is the latest to announce that uncertainty about future costs and potential lawsuits have forced its closure. The site went offline in April over a dispute with its server host but said it would be back after it found a new internet service provider. On May 22, the site announced that past issues with FlightPrep and future costs from the FAA combined to seal its fate.
2) RunwayFinder Closing
- (Feb 10 2012)
RunwayFinder, the chart and airport information website that was embroiled in legal action with FlightPrep a year ago, is closing. In a statement, owner Dave Parsons said the decision was made partly because of the FAA's intention to charge fees for chart downloads through its online charting division AeroNav. "While I understand AeroNav's need to re-capture costs, the new chart fees along with other licensing fees will put RunwayFinder firmly into the red," Parsons wrote. He said the money issues might have been overcome but there is also a lot of work that needs to be done to update the service. "I've had many people suggest alternatives, but unfortunately there is no way to keep it going (for reasons I can't disclose)," he wrote. The non-disclosure is likely a reference to an agreement he signed with FlightPrep last March that settled a well-publicized lawsuit over alleged patent infringement by RunwayFinder.
3) RunwayFinder, FlightPrep Settle Lawsuit
- (Mar 30 2011)
RunwayFinder owner Dave Parsons says he'll return contributions made to a legal defense fund now that he and the owners of FlightPrep have settled a patent infringement lawsuit out of court. He's also clearly signed a confidentiality agreement with FlightPrep, which was the flashpoint in his well-publicized battle against the suit, launched by FlightPrep late last year. "Sorry, but I can't comment," he said in response to an AVweb e-mail inquiry about the settlement Tuesday. "I will say that if anybody feels upset by the outcome, I'm refunding donations by request." As we extensively reported in December and January, RunwayFinder was initially determined to fight the infringement suit and try to dismantle the patent itself. The lawsuit has now gone away but the status of RunwayFinder's application to the Patent Office to revisit the patent is not clear. FlightPrep did not respond to our request for comment by our deadline.
4) FlightPrep/RunwayFinder Dispute Continues
- (Feb 14 2011)
The legal dispute between FlightPrep and RunwayFinder over the latter's alleged patent infringement continues to move forward but there have been a couple of twists and turns. According to the most recent post to RunwayFinder's website, owner Dave Parsons has filed a dismissal notice in the Oregon court where the suit was launched, alleging the suit should have been filed in Washington, where FlightPrep is based. FlightPrep can fight the dismissal notice and even if it is upheld the suit can simply be relaunched in Washington. No timeline was given for that bit of legal wrangling but the lawsuit itself is considered a short-term issue. RunwayFinder has also started work on an attempt to dismantle, or significantly restrict, the patent itself.
5) FlightPrep Responds
- (Jan 1 2011)
FlightPrep's enforcement of its patent on online flight planning has created a lot of discussion. AVweb had some questions we felt went unanswered. Here's FlightPrep's response.
6) NavMonster Cuts Deal With FlightPrep
- (Jan 1 2011)
The FlightPrep patent story took another turn Friday when NavMonster.com, which pulled down its popular site about two weeks ago, suddenly announced it had reached a deal with FlightPrep and will relaunch an updated website early in the New Year. "We got all the lawyers and programmers together from both sides, and after some good discussions, an agreement has been reached," NavMonster owner Marc Alexander said in a statement posted on the site. "No more patent infringement worries." It's a significant change in tone from the angry condemnation that appeared on the site two weeks ago when Alexander announced he was pulling the pin.
7) "Patent-Free" Flight Planner Offered
- (Dec 26 2010)
Seattle Avionics says its collaboration with DTC DUAT offers pilots a "patent-free" flight planning service that avoids all the issues raised by the patent awarded FlightPrep for online flight planning. "While it downloads weather and TFR information from the Internet, it is not an Internet-based flight planner, and is not subject to the recently publicized FlightPrep patent," Seattle Avionics said in a Dec. 24 news release. DTC DUAT is using a basic version of Seattle Avionics' Voyager flight planner for the free service it's offering. Seattle Avionics CEO Steve Podrachik said the basic function of Voyager precludes any infringement of FlightPrep's patent. "As we don't make an Internet-based flight planner, we're clearly not subject to it and have not received any letter from FlightPrep," said Podradchik. "But with so many pilots concerned, we wanted to offer all pilots a free flight planning alternative that is clear of all patent issues."
8) What Now, FlightPrep?
- (Dec 26 2010)
FlightPrep isn't just taking on RunwayFinder in its patent enforcement lawsuit. It's taking on the whole aviation community.
9) NavMonster Up For Sale
- (Dec 21 2010)
NavMonster, a popular flight planning website, has been put up for sale by its owner Mark Alexander because he doesn't want to deal with the patent issues that have arisen surrounding online flight planning. As AVweb has reported extensively, a patent covering general elements of Internet flight planning technology was obtained by Oregon-based FlightPrep a year ago and its efforts to enforce the patent have been controversial. Earlier this month FlightPrep launched a lawsuit against RunwayFinder claiming patent infringement and damages resulting from the infringement. RunwayFinder owner Dave Parsons is considering fighting the suit and trying to invalidate the patent. Alexander has no interest in joining that fight.
10) FlightPrep in the Left Seat on Patent
- (Dec 20 2010)
FlightPrep's patent on online flight planning isn't perfect, but it doesn't have to be to fend off challenges. IFR editor and Aviation Consumer contributor Jeff Van West spoke with patent attorney and pilot Lionel Lavenue about how patents are generally a good thing and how difficult it might be for those fighting this one to win.
11) RunwayFinder To Fight FlightPrep Patent
- (Dec 19 2010)
RunwayFinder owner Dave Parsons says he will fight the patent awarded FlightPrep for online flight planning. In a blog post Parsons says he thinks he's found enough holes in the patent to defend his service's technology against it. "I think there is a clear path toward fighting the lawsuit against RunwayFinder, and potentially a way to invalidate their patent," Parsons wrote. He plans to represent himself and he won't have much time to prepare. He must answer the lawsuit filed by FlightPrep by Dec. 28.
12) FlightPrep's Patent Could Be Upheld: Patent Attorney
- (Dec 19 2010)
FlightPrep's online flight planning patent could very well stand up to a court challenge, says pilot and patent attorney Lionel Lavenue. In an exclusive podcast interview with AVweb, Lavenue says the emotion and sentiment being expressed by those angered by FlightPrep's preliminary efforts to enforce the patent mean little in front of a jury. Much of the ire against Flight Prep stems from a feeling that they are attacking the "little guys" and requesting nondisclosure agreements to prevent those involved from talking to the press or each other. Lavenue says Flight Prep's strategy is actually quite normal, and protects the patent holder from an immediate countersuit of "a declaratory judgment of non-infringement." He also says it's common to approach smaller companies first before going after the more powerful entities to see what counter arguments might emerge. "The patent is not without warts," Lavenue said, but he also noted that a jury deciding infringement doesn't need to meet the "beyond a shadow of a doubt" level of certainty. In fact, they only need a "51 percent" certainty -- more sure than not there's an infringement. Major players such as AOPA/Jeppesen, Flight Aware and Fltplan.com have all been contacted by Flight Prep and have all said they don't infringe and will not discuss the issue with Flight Prep. This could come back to haunt them in court, Lavenue said.
13) Question of the Week: Online Flight Planning
- (Dec 16 2010)
FlightPrep's online flight planning patent could change the landscape of internet-based flight planning. Would you sit up and take notice if it did? This week, we'd like to know how often you use an online flight planner. Plus: Last week, we asked AVweb readers about the increasing privatization of space travel; click through to see how your fellow readers answered.
14) Jeppesen, AOPA Say Flight Prep Patent Doesn't Affect Them
- (Dec 15 2010)
AOPA and Jeppesen, two of the largest players in the online flight planning business, say a patent obtained by FlightPrep doesn't affect their products and they are not willing to discuss it. In a statement released Wednesday, AOPA says it will not meet with FlightPrep to discuss the patent and it will be business as usual for the product it provides. In fact, there's a new version coming out in a few weeks. FlightPrep didn't directly comment on AOPA and Jepp's reaction and had this to say: "FlightPrep has been in contact with Tom Haines and AOPA regarding our patent and online planner technology since 2007. FlightPrep is a small Oregon-based business that is a proud AOPA advertiser, AOPA Summit participant, and our staff are proud members of AOPA as well as AOPA political action supporters." As we reported in Wednesday's AVwebBiz, RunwayFinder, a popular online flight planning site, shut down in the face of a lawsuit from FlightPrep.
15) RunwayFinder Shuts Down Over Patent
- (Dec 14 2010)
RunwayFinder, a popular online flight planning website, announced Tuesday that it was shutting down in the face of a lawsuit from FlightPrep, an Oregon company that successfully patented online flight planning almost a year ago. RunwayFinder developer Dave Parsons said he had hoped to reach a licensing deal with FlightPrep which included the dropping of the lawsuit, which claims damages of $3.2 million per month from RunwayFinder. FlightPrep did offer RunwayFinder a temporary free license while it negotiated terms of a permanent one but Parsons said the lawsuit was a deal breaker. He said FlightPrep arrived at the $3.2 million figure by multiplying the number of unique visits his site receives each month (22,500) by the $149 annual subscription cost for FlightPrep's service. FlightPrep calls the resulting $3.2 million "lost revenue." Parsons said FlightPrep wouldn't drop the suit so he's closing the site, which is used by other sites as a source for information for their own products. In a podcast interview with AVweb, FlightPrep Vice President and General Manager Ross Neher said it's not his company's goal to shut down sites or otherwise disrupt aviation services but RunwayFinder ignored written notification of the patent enforcement. He said taking Parsons to court was a last resort and the only option open to his company under the circumstances.
16) Internet Flight Planning Patent Fallout Begins
- (Dec 13 2010)
When we first heard of FlightPrep's successful patent of online flight planning a year ago, we figured it would eventually be big news. It's now gathering some interest, and on Tuesday RunwayFinder announced it was shutting down its site because of a patent infringement lawsuit filed by FlightPrep. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with FlightPrep general manager Ross Neher on Monday, before RunwayFinder pulled the pin, about how his company hopes to work with the GA community to make this uncharted (sorry) territory navigable.
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