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uAvionix sued for patent infringement

Garmin claims company appropriated its technology

Garmin has filed suit against uAvionix—which makes Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and other avionics, including an easily installed wingtip-mounted solution that it says is nearing FAA Technical Standard Order approval—alleging patent infringement. uAvionix disputes the allegation and said in a statement that the suit will not affect its certification or delivery of ADS-B hardware.

Photo courtesy of uAvionix.

The lawsuit, filed June 19 in uAvionix’s home state of Montana, seeks a judgment that the company willfully infringed Garmin’s patent, injunctions preventing uAvionix from infringing the patent, damages, and legal fees.

The complaint states that uAvionix has used patented technology Garmin calls AutoSquawk, which automatically parses information required by ADS-B from the aircraft’s existing transponder.

Garmin uses the technology in its GDL-82, GDL-84, and GDL-88 universal access transceivers, which send and receive ADS-B data on 978 MHz. Garmin does not license this technology, covered by U.S. Patent No. 8,102,301, according to the complaint.

“Garmin sought to resolve this dispute without resorting to litigation,” and repeatedly asked uAvionix to explain why its products did not infringe Garmin’s patent, according to the complaint. Eventually, Garmin purchased a “redesigned” uAvionix product and determined that it still violates Garmin’s patent, the complaint states. “uAvionix’s disregard of Garmin’s patent rights left it with no other recourse but to file this lawsuit.”

“I cannot comment on ongoing litigation,” said a Garmin spokeswoman when asked for additional information about the case.

In a statement posted on its website, uAvionix says it does not infringe the Garmin patent in question. “uAvionix has our own patent-pending method for using Mode 3/A and altitude information that differs from the method in the 301 Patent. We invite you to see for yourself. Ultimately the court and industry will decide whether we are innovators or infringers,” the statement said.

uAvionix’s statement said it recognizes that disruptive products often attract unwanted attention from incumbents, adding, “We just want the world to know that we take intellectual property rights seriously. We are innovators with integrity, and we are defending that integrity. We also want to make a clear statement that this suit in no way impacts our ability to certify and ship any of our products, including skyBeacon and tailBeacon.”

uAvionix has said that it expects FAA TSO approval of its easily installed skyBeacon wingtip position light and ADS-B transmitter in the near future, and plans to submit tailBeacon—a similar product designed to install in place of an aircraft’s aft position light—for TSO approval shortly after skyBeacon’s TSO is received.

AOPA will provide more information about this lawsuit as it becomes available.

Mike Collins

Mike Collins

Technical Editor
Mike Collins, AOPA technical editor and director of business development, died from COVID-19 at age 59 on February 25, 2021. He was an integral part of the AOPA Media team for nearly 30 years, and held many key editorial roles at AOPA Pilot, Flight Training, and AOPA Online. He was a gifted writer, editor, photographer, audio storyteller, and videographer, and was an instrument-rated pilot and drone pilot.
Topics: Avionics, ADSB

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