In the first case of its kind concerning the consumer drone market, world-leading UAV manufacturer DJI claim that rival company Yuneec
have infringed on two of their patents.
A lawsuit has been filed between DJI and Yuneec
The complaint raised by DJI relates to Yuneec’s use of "systems and methods for target tracking" (Patent Number 9,164,506) as well as their "interchangeable mounting platform" (Patent Number 9,280,038).
The case has been filed in California due to the patents in question being based in the US. DJI
have invested heavily in R&D over the past decade and currently hold hundreds of patents worldwide, including upwards of 30 in the US alone, pertaining to UAV technology.
DJI and Yuneec: Drone Wars
The announcement of this lawsuit closely followed the release of Yuneec’s new model, the Typhoon H, at CES. DJI currently hold an approximate 70% share in the drone market but Yuneec’s partnership with Intel has allowed the outsider to gain some ground. Although widely tipped to become a serious competitor to DJI, this case could be damaging to the company.
It’s also notable that Yuneec was the first manufacturer to demonstrate a drone with obstacle avoidance in the form of the “Watch Me” feature, but DJI were the first to release it as part of a functioning unit. DJI's version, “ActiveTrack”, has become one of the key selling points of the new Phantom 4
Drones battle for supremacy
While DJI won’t go into too much detail regarding which of Yuneec’s models has infringed upon their patents, a spokesperson had this to say about the lawsuit:
"DJI welcomes competition, but is committed to protecting its intellectual property. Friday's filing is a response to safeguard that investment, to protect customers and partners and to promote genuine innovation in this promising area."
This case may set a precedent for the entire consumer drone ecosystem, not just affecting DJI and Yuneec, and the outcome will surely be cause for further discussion. Heliguy
will be following the story closely and will provide updates on the lawsuit as it progresses.
See below for the patents currently being disputed and also a copy of DJI's court filing.
The Disputed Patents
9,164,506 - Systems and Methods for Target Tracking
9,280,038 - interchangeable mounting platform
DJI's Court Filing