The US International Trade Commission (ITC) court has ruled against DJI in a patent case of the American manufacturer Autel Robotics (manufacturer of EVO II 8K or 5.5K camera drone among others) that DJI has infringed Autel&s patent for compact unmanned rotor aircraft dating from 2013 and recommends the US International Trade Commission to ban the import of a whole range of DJI products into the United States.
The patent describes an aircraft that has rotors on the ends of several arms, which are detachable and rotate in an alternating clockwise and counterclockwise arrangement. The patent is so broadly formulated that all quad and hexacopter drones DJIs could be affected.
Autel Patent Sketch
Virtually all popular consumer drones from DJI would be affected, such as the Mavic Pro, Mavic Pro Platinum, Mavic 2 Pro, Mavic 2 Zoom, Mavic Air and the Spark - the new Mavic Air 2 is not mentioned, possibly it simply came on the market after the lawsuit was filed and could therefore not be considered. Autel also wants a new petition to ban the sale of further DJI models such as the Phantom 4 and Inspire series (DJI has however stopped production of the Phantom series - except for the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 - and the Inspire 1).
Autel EVO II
According to a press release by the law firm Steptoe, which represents Autel Robotics, DJI&s models could be taken off the US market as early as July if the ITC Commission upholds the ruling. The judge also recommended a cease and desist order to prohibit DJI not only from re-importing the above models but also from selling products already on the US market.
However, in major patent proceedings before the ITC, it has happened on several occasions that court rulings have been overturned by the Commission, so DJI can still hope for a positive outcome. And although at first glance the patent dispute looks like another trade conflict between the US and China and DJI has also been the focus of national security concerns of the US Senate for some time, the whole thing is actually more complex - because interestingly, the American manufacturer Autel Robotics is owned by the large Chinese company Autel Intelligent Technology, which has been in dispute with DJI over drone technology for years.
Autel Patent Sketch
This makes it likely that the end result will not be a US import ban on DJI drones, but an out-of-court settlement or a licensing agreement between the two companies. DJI has not yet officially responded to the ruling, but the legal process is reportedly continuing at other levels.
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