The question of this blog, “Will DJI Drones Still Be Sold After The Autel Lawsuit?” is a very consequential question, since DJI is by far the largest drone company in the world. Therefore, the result of the lawsuit can have far-reaching consequences for the drone market.
The Chinese DJI drone company is accused of creating various drones, including its Mavic series that have allegedly infringed upon Autel Robotics US Patent No. 9, 260,184. Although the patent covers foldable arms, which are used to prop the drone off the ground, the primary issue has to do with the locking mechanism used to lock the propellers to the motors, and how the legs are attached to the main body of a compact drone that can be folded for storage. The patent also states that the clockwise blade only engages with the clockwise mechanism on the motor, and that the counterclockwise blade only engages with the counter-clockwise mechanism.
Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 makes it clear that infringing on a US patent is an unlawful practice when importing products into the United States. The Chief Administrative Law Judge of the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled in favor of Autel – and recommended that the drones in question be banned from U.S. shelves.
A “cease and desist” order was given to the DJI, which prevents the Mavic Pro, Mavic Pro Platinum, Mavic 2 Pro, Mavic 2 Zoom, Mavic Air, and Spark from being imported and sold within the United States. In addition, Autel also filed a petition to get the Phantom and Inspire series to be included in the exclusion. If the exclusion is upheld, DJI products could be removed from the United States market as early as July. The judge also granted Autel’s request for DJI to post a 9.9% bond during the 60-day presidential review period.
This lawsuit can be devastating to DJI in its business sector in the U.S., in one of its biggest markets. DJI would either have to come to an agreement with Autel Robotics to continue to use the mechanism, or DJI will have to come up with a mechanism that is substantially different, in order to continue selling its drones.
It is questionable whether this lawsuit will affect the Mavic Air 2 and Matrice 300, which were both released after the ruling. This could also affect the launch of Mavic 3 by forcing DJI to come up with a major set of solutions.
Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 makes it clear that infringing on a US patent is an unlawful practice when importing products into the United States. The Chief Administrative Law Judge of the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled in favor of Autel – and recommended that drones in question be banned from U.S. shelves.
This recommendation must be confirmed by the full commission of ITC, which does not guarantee a certain result. However, if the full commission does uphold the ruling, Steptoe claims that the products could be taken off the market in the U.S. as early as July.
The title of this blog asks the question, “Will DJI Drones Still Be Sold After The Autel Lawsuit”? The answer is: “Only time will tell!”