FlightPrep Responds

Editor’s Note:

In my earlier blog on the FlightPrep patent, I complained that they were not responsive to some basic questions. Here’s what they had to say, unedited.

Russ Niles

Q: What does FlightPrep’s online flight planning patent mean for the industry?A: It means that we have a patent for a specific online flight planning technology. People should read and analyze it to determine if there is any concern that it may affect them. If there are any questions from the industry, users, or media, please ask us. FlightPrep’s intent with the patent is to use it to promote the technology through partnerships with other companies to broaden the use of online planning throughout the aviation community. Our intent is not to drive other companies out of business, prevent development of online planning tools, or stop developing our own products.Q: Why does FlightPrep “invite secret discussions” about the patent?A: As Mr. Lavenue stated in your interview, we cannot simply say publicly or otherwise “we believe company XYZ is infringing on our patent.” What we did was ask for some companies to have confidential conversations with us regarding our patent. Businesses sign confidentiality agreements every day to protect the interests of both parties involved. Every business, including AvWeb, has data and information they do not wish to broadcast out via a news flash or someone’s blog. It is simply the way businesses work. Whether that data is payroll, advertising dollars, inter-business agreements, product, or healthcare costs, it is confidential to the businesses involved.Q: Despite RunwayFinder shutting down, FlightPrep has not dismissed the lawsuit, why?A: RunwayFinder dismantling their website was not ever a goal for FlightPrep and we have extended a temporary license to run their site while we work towards a long term license agreement. The details of the license will be mutually beneficial. We know that what the public wants is a website back up so they can use it. We have consistently stated that we want the website up and running.The suit goes away in a few very simple and easy steps: we sign a mutual non-disclosure statement, RunwayFinder hears what we have to say, we hear what RunwayFinder has to say, we work out a license agreement and the suit is dismissed as part of that agreement. We are stuck at step 1 in this process; Mr. Parsons will not sign a mutual non-disclosure statement.Some ask “why don’t you just drop the lawsuit?” Our reply is that it took a lawsuit to finally get a reply. If we drop the suit without some type of agreement in place, what assurance is there that RunwayFinder will negotiate any license agreement?Q: Did FlightPrep ever think there would be a petition website against them or forums filled with comments swearing never to buy their products? Or that end users would be provoked and start turning out in significant numbers to fight a perceived injustice?A: We had not anticipated that this much misinformation would be published about our company. We are not at all interested in alienating the GA community. Good pilots weigh all options and gathers all information before making decisions and we hope that reasonable pilots out there will consider that there is much more information than is publicized.We have spoken with countless people and replied to many emails. For the most part, we have received emails and phone calls asking us to explain ourselves and what we are trying to do. We are letting people know that we want the lawsuit to go away as much as anyone, and a license agreement will do just that. Most people that email or call FlightPrep are working off of only partial information and once we enter into a discussion with them, they let us know that their true hope is for everyone to work together. This is exactly what we are trying to do. We still hope for a fast and mutually beneficial resolution to this matter.We’ve also received a number of emails and threatening phone calls made against our employees that we had to turn over to the police. Some of these emails that we received made us worry about that someone would try to physically harm one of our employees or their family members. Those types of comments and promises of action are unnecessary and uncalled for here.Q: Why doesn’t FlightPrep “take on AOPA and Jeppesen?”A: FlightPrep has been in contact with AOPA regarding our patent and online planning technology since 2007. We will certainly look at their technology and make our own assessment in due time to determine whether or not we agree or disagree with their recently published statement. For now, we are currently assessing the situation and will advise should our position change.Q: Regardless of how carefully formulated your business plan is, does FlightPrep accept the fact that it ain’t working?A: We are a business in the aviation market that has a patent and we are working with other businesses regarding that patent. It’s in the best interest of our business to protect and promote our patented technology.Q: Has FlightPrep “turned a well-respected man and his family’s (not a company, a family) life upside down for what may be just a few misdirected emails?”A: This is a dispute between two businesses. It is not a personal issue between Mr. Parsons and anyone at FlightPrep. We have worked very hard to try and resolve this issue with RunwayFinder. Now that RunwayFinder has finally retained competent counsel, we see this as favorable sign that RunwayFinder is preparing to work toward an amicable solution. As we have said many times, we are ready to settle this matter as soon as RunwayFinder is ready to have a conversation with us.