AOPA has filed a request for reexamination of a patented airworthiness directive (AD) fix. The outcome of the action has implications for all aircraft owners.
The particular patent forces Lake amphibian owners to buy a wing spar doubler kit (mandated by an AD) from the aircraft type certificate holder, Revo, Inc., or pay licensing fees to a third company. AOPA contends that the Revo kit is no different than spar doubler kits installed on several other existing airframes and, therefore, isn't patentable.
Revo, Inc. obtained a patent for the company's fix for the AD after manufacturer Airtech Canada offered an alternative wing spar doubler kit at a substantially lower price. Florida-based patent infringement firm Enpat, which obtained the patent rights from Revo, is pursuing civil action against Lake owners who used the Airtech kits if they don't pay a licensing fee to Enpat. Airtech has now stopped offering its lower priced kits.
"Not only is this important for owners of Lake aircraft, this issue has implications for all aircraft owners," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Pilots should not be precluded from using any FAA-approved AD fix."