Runwayfinder being forced off the Internet

Rodney

Newbie
Joined
Mar 11, 2010
Messages
6
Location
Fort Towson, Okla
First of all - I hope this is the right place on the forum to post this news.

If this is the wrong place - then please accept my apologies.
My goal here is to let as many people as possible know and become
aware of this issue.


Went to my favorite site for flight planning - and there is a notice that Runwayfinder is being forced off the internet.

Apparently - the people who own FlightPrep are using legal tactics to make Runwayfinder to shut down.

Here is the information posted by the owner of Runwayfinder:
-----

Effective December 10, 2010 at noon Pacific Time, RunwayFinder will be taken offline.

Dear Fans of RunwayFinder,

FlightPrep has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against the RunwayFinder website. Not exactly what I wanted in my stocking this year. I don’t agree that RunwayFinder is infringing or that the patent is even valid, but RF has no money to fight a lengthy legal battle with extremely expensive intellectual property lawyers. FlightPrep sent some vague letters a few months ago saying they wanted me to enter into a non-disclosure agreement. Their tactic is to keep this story from getting out. (see SkyVector.) I’ve tried calling Kyle Everson and Roger Stenbock at their office number 503-678-4360 and emailing them at [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected]. They won’t talk to me. Instead I’m stuck dealing with their lawyers who twice said that if RunwayFinder pays a license fee (would you like 10% or 20% of zero?) or removes the website that they will drop the lawsuit. Unfortunately, they are now reneging on that and posturing for more. They are claiming damages of $3.2M per month.

Looking over their patent application history, it looks like they had significant trouble getting this one past the U.S. Patent Office, including a “final rejection” notice. However, they modified their claims to include features that were in wide-spread use at the time of the amendment. Additionally, when they initially filed this patent application in September 2005, RunwayFinder was already online along with at least one other aeronautical chart viewing website. It appears they were able to use some slight-of-hand involving divisional patents to set the date back to 2001. It’s unfortunate that the U.S. patent process can be used in this manner to stifle innovation and entrepreneurship. More over, the last thing we as pilots need to be doing is attacking each other in court. We are a small and rapidly shrinking community that is already under siege from every side, user fees, airport closures, increased security requirements, rising fuel prices, just to name a few. I’m crafting a letter now to the patent examiner to invalidate this patent. The process will take too long to save RunwayFinder, but hopefully it helps the other websites out there.

Despite the many challenges over the past 5 years, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed providing my fellow pilots and flying enthusiasts with free access to aeronautical charts and pre-flight info. It’s been especially gratifying that I could help out some non-profit groups with free access to the charts, such as the extremely cool Animal Rescue Flights group. However, a project that makes no profit is not worth this new legal hassle.

Thanks to everyone that has supported RunwayFinder over the years, providing encouragement and helpful suggestions. Sorry if I haven’t been able to respond personally to all of your emails over the past several months, but I’ve taken on some new non-aviation projects. I was just starting to get back to working on RunwayFinder, but that obviously won’t be happening now. I’ve considered over the years putting the code for the website into an open source project. Let me know if that sounds interesting to any of you programmers out there.

Please visit my friends at AirNav for airport info and fuel prices, or if you have an iPhone or iPad check out ForeFlight, or if you’re looking for an inexpensive and very cool EFB, take a look at Chartflier from Essential Flight Technology.

Clear Skies,
Dave Parsons, Founder
RunwayFinder, LLC
[email protected]
December 9, 2010

------------------------------

I hope most of you will agree with me that this is not the right
thing for FlightPrep to do - and will join me in writing an email to
FlightPrep to voice your displeasure - I for one will indicate that Flightprep is now off my list of possible vendors for an IPAD application or any other product they offer.

It is not my intention to offend anyone here - or in anyway tell you how to feel about this matter - but it just really bothers me to have a small business stomped on when there is just no need for this kind of legal action in the pilot community. Runwayfinder is free and is really provided as a service to all of us - and I appreciate someone who will spend the hours and hours it takes to do that for fellow pilots. If I'm wrong here, guess I'll duck my head and take a beating - but I really hate to see Runwayfinder forced to close down.

Regards
Rodney Wren
 

automan1223

Banned
Joined
Nov 3, 2003
Messages
3,760
Location
Oriental, North Carolina
Aircraft
2p Tandem Air Command "Big Red"
Total Flight Time
250
Patents,

Patents,

He can't not afford to take this bully bs to court. Patents can be challenged in court and if they are the ones bringing the suit they can be countered sued for damages, legal fees and all sorts of not nice stuff. There is nothing unique in digitizing sectional charts that are published free by our government. They are on very shaky ground and there is nothing in runway finder that is unique or special that could be patented. Its like yahoo suing google over search engines.

J
 

Rotor Rooter

Dave Jackson
Joined
Feb 23, 2004
Messages
2,835
Location
Yes
The current patent system does not serve the small inventors. It serves the large corporations. For many years the Congress has been trying to rectify this problem, without success.
_________________

Rodney,
First of all - I hope this is the right place on the forum to post this news.
IMHO, yes.

The thread 'Is Sikorsky Attempting to Inhibit Others from Developing Electric Rotorcraft?' shows a rotorcraft related attempt to misuse the patent system.

Last month the US Patent Office rendered its 'Final Action' in which all 23 claims were rejected. To a large degree this rejection was based on the fact that the ideas, which Sikorsky was attempting to patent, were previously known and obvious.

Dave
 
Last edited:

ToddP

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 28, 2003
Messages
1,374
Location
Spokane, WA
Aircraft
Dominator Gyro / RV9
Total Flight Time
500 Hours
Update 12/10/2010 2:30pm PST

A preliminary verbal agreement has been reached. Assuming we can work out the details over the next few days, RunwayFinder will remain online. I appreciate all of the messages of support. Sorry if I’m not able to respond to everybody personally. I’ll update this post as things progress.
- Maybe a grass roots campaign worked!
 

Walter

Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2007
Messages
243
Location
Göttingen, Germany
Aircraft
MTO Sport, FA-01 (Smaragd), C-172, HK-36, Mü28, ASW20Top
Total Flight Time
2480 (400 of these in Gyro)
This is getting more complicated, and if RunwayFinder does not win the lawsuit, we will not have free flightplaning software anymore.
Here is a site where you can sign in and get more information:

http://boycottflightprep.com/

-Walter
 
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