Government Ordered to Pitch-In $12.5 Million to Resolve a Patent Dispute Involving Advanced Aerospace Technologies, Inc.’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Retrieval System Technology

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On August 4, 2017, after five-and-a-half years of litigation over patent infringement, a Federal Claims judge ordered the United States (“the Government”) to pay Advanced Aerospace Technologies, Inc. (“AATI”) a lump sum of $12,500,000.  This is only a portion of the compensation that AATI will receive to resolve this patent dispute.  In the late 1990s, the owner of AATI, William McDonnell, created an unmanned aerial vehicle retrieval system that allows for the capture of unmanned aerial vehicles without damaging them.  The dispute began in 2012 when AATI sued the Government in the Court of Federal Claims for construction of an unmanned aerial vehicle launch-and-catch system that infringes AATI’s patents.  The Government’s system was constructed by The Boeing Company and Insitu, Inc. (together, “Boeing”).  AATI filed a separate case in federal court in Missouri against Boeing.    In its complaint against the Government, AATI sought compensation that was “conservatively estimated to exceed $40 million,” while in its complaint against Boeing, AATI sought damages “conservatively estimated to exceed $160 million.”  The parties agreed to a settlement on July 11, 2017.  Pursuant to the global settlement of disputes between AATI, William McDonnell, Boeing, and Insitu, judgment was entered in favor of AATI and against the Government only.  The $12,500,000 lump sum payment represents the Government’s contribution to the global settlement and is to be paid subsequent to Boeing paying the entirety of its contribution to the global settlement.  The amount of the Boeing contribution is currently undisclosed.  Pursuant to the settlement, AATI granted the Government a non-exclusive, royalty-free license to the AATI patented technology.

The case is Advanced Aerospace Tech., Inc., v. United States, et al., Case No. 12-85C  (Cl. Ct.)

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