Boeing And Insitu Sued For UAV Patent Infringement

  • 12:00 AM, February 15, 2012
  • 3157
The Boeing Company and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Insitu, Inc are being sued by the Advanced Aerospace Technologies, Inc., (AATI) for an excess of $160 million in royalties based on infringement of AATI patents by Insitu's Skyhook retrieval system. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. The same system which Boeing and Insitu employ to retrieve unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) without a runway at the end of a flight. Aeronautical engineer William Randall McDonnell, owner of AATI and founder of McDonnell Aircraft invented a retrieval system using a "swept" wing with a special hook and clasp at the end, the technology enables UAVs returning from a mission to be safely retrieved without a runway by flying into a suspended line. The hook grabs the line and channels it to a clasp which holds the UAV securely and enables it to be lowered into the hands of operators without damage. According to the lawsuit filed by AATI, Insitu was unable to retrieve its UAVs without damaging them. To solve this problem, McDonnell provided his patented technology to Insitu – and Insitu incorporated it into its various unmanned aircraft systems, including: ScanEagle, NightEagle, Insight, GeoRanger, ScanEagle Compressed Carriage, and Integrator. Since integrating AATI patents to these UAVs, Boeing began to lead the UAV market. According to AATI, Insitu and Boeing misappropriated AATI's patented inventions and Insitu's unmanned aircraft systems infringe AATI's patents. Insitu and Boeing have never paid any royalties or other amounts to AATI for their use of the AATI inventions.