WiFi Patent Lawsuit Against Southwest Airlines On Hold For Re-Examination

By Joseph Mandour on April 12, 2013

airplane-airbusa380-150x150 San Diego – On Monday U.S. District Judge Gary Allen Feess announced a stay in a patent infringement lawsuit against Southwest Airlines Co. until the USPTO finalizes its re-examination of the patents cited in the Complaint.  Feess ruled that it doesn’t make sense to continue the case until the patent re-examination is complete.

Advanced Media Networks LLC originally filed the lawsuit against Southwest Airlines in California federal court last December.  The lawsuit concerns Southwest’s in-flight Internet service provider, Row 44 Inc. which is also named in the lawsuit.

Advanced Media believes that Southwest and Row 44 infringed on its patents, which involve technology for providing mobile telecommunications networks on commercial airline flights.  The two patents in suit, U.S. Patent No. 5,960,074 entitled “Mobile tele-computer network for motion picture, television and TV advertising production,” and U.S. Patent No. 6,445,777 entitled “Mobile tele-computer network” were approved for registration in 1999 and 2002, respectively.

Now however, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office is re-examining the validity of the patents due to issues introduced by a third party who the USPTO felt “raised substantial new questions of patentability.”  This is the second re-examination of these two patents, which were also reviewed in 2010, and then affirmed.

Judge Feess compared this case to the recent federal court case between Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.  In the Apple v. Samsung case, the judge allowed the case to proceed to a jury decision even though a patent re-examination was still pending.   After the jury decided in favor of Apple, the USPTO made its decision that one of Apple’s patents in the case was invalid.

One of the attorneys for Row 44 agreed with Judge Feess that delaying the outcome of the trial would help everyone “avoid all this work” should the patents be deemed invalid.

Advanced Media argued that the case should move forward based on the fact that the patents may expire before the case goes to trial.

Judge Feess stated he would also delay a ruling on a Motion to Dismiss presented by Southwest and Row 44 at this time as well.

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Posted in: Patent Infringement