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, on July 22 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, confirming the earlier findings of District Court Magistrate Judge John V. Acosta.
AOPA had previously requested that the case, which was originally filed on July 29, 2013, be dismissed or moved to Maryland, where AOPA headquarters is located. AOPA had also argued that SD Holdings had no good faith basis for bringing the patent infringement case.
“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. But Judge Hernández also deferred an AOPA motion for sanctions, confirming a prior ruling by Magistrate Acosta that sanctions against SD Holdings may be considered by any court that ultimately hears the case, if the case is refiled in another jurisdiction. And, even if SD Holdings does not file the lawsuit again, the Oregon court could consider 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.