Posted in Industry Updates on May 10, 2016
Update September 23rd, 2016: The European Patent Office ruled on iFLY's patent. Both ISG and iFLY have released press releases about the conclusion. Read the news announcement here.
Update June 12th, 2016: construction plans for an iFLY wind tunnel less than 2 miles to the south of the old Fliteshop site have surfaced. iFLY Phoenix is estimated to be open in early 2017.
Tonight Alan Metni, the CEO of SkyVenture and iFLY Indoor Skydiving sent out an announcement that a legal battle that had been underway for some time has ended. Fliteshop, a wind tunnel project in Phoenix, Arizona was to bring an Indoor Skydiving Germany (ISG) wind tunnel to the USA. In 2014 ISG was sued by SkyVenture for patent infringement.
In tonight's letter, Alan Metni writes the following on the conclusion:
In 2014, we sued Indoor Skydiving Germany (ISG) for selling a wind tunnel for installation in Phoenix, Arizona. In the run up to trial, ISG repeatedly attacked the validity of our patents in both the District Court and the US Patent Office; those attacks failed. On the eve of trial, ISG conceded the validity and enforceability of two of our U.S. Patents (RE43,028 and 7,156,744) and agreed not to attack their validity in the future. ISG terminated its Phoenix project, and agreed not to sell any vertical wind tunnel in the US through the duration of those patents – until September 22, 2024. The agreement was not limited to the US. To persuade us to settle, ISG also agreed to cease operations in North and South America, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and parts of the Middle East and India until September 22, 2024. To be vindicated in this way, after so many years of fighting was incredibly gratifying.
This conclusion comes one month before the first non-iFLY tunnel, Airborne San Diego is scheduled to open. In addition another tunnel by new manufacturer Extreme Flight has been rumored near the original SkyVenture location in Orlando. As the letter continues it is clear that other wind tunnel manufacturers will be a future focus for iFLY:
It’s important to note that this does not resolve the matter globally. Our patent infringement lawsuits in other countries continue. We are also aware of other companies doing substantially the same thing as ISG. We plan to address those violations in similar fashion and we expect the same result.
This case is not the first time that SkyVenture and ISG have faced off. In 2010 the German patent office ruled in favor of ISG, cancelling SkyVenture's German utility patent. The announcement by ISG for that conclusion can be found here.
We will be following any additional developments closely. Please leave any comments below.