FlightPrep lawsuit against Runwayfinder (or “why I’m glad I use ForeFlight”)

When I started this post, I was afraid I used some FlightPrep software. I was ready to delete it. Then I realized I’d considered their products, but found them inferior to other products out there. I felt they were an outdated company trying to catch up (and failing).

FlightPrep is posting on their site logical-sounding claims regarding a patent they filed and how they’ve tried to contact the maintainer of runwayfinder.com, grant him a free license during negotiation, etc.
Here’s what it really comes down to:

  1. Lawyers are expensive and time-consuming. This is 1 person with a full-time job against a company with 4 full-time employees, and evidently enough capital to pay lawyers.
  2. Sure, it’s good business practice to sue/buy the competition. Microsoft is famous for it. Microsoft is also hated for it. I won’t tolerate that tactic from FlightPrep. Delete.
  3. FlightPrep claims that RunwayFinder is infringing on their patent and wants RunwayFinder to pay them to keep running. I run a couple of web sites – it’s not worth my time to deal with legal issues. I’m sure Dave doesn’t have time either (as he says). The mere claim of infringement overruns his resources.

I’m a software developer by profession, and software patent law needs some serious change. The problem is that people can patent simple ideas that anyone can come up with. Take Amazon’s “one click” for example. Store address and credit card information so that the user can use it later – patent! Evidently pointing out airports on a chart and letting you route (an existing process taught to every pilot) is patentable if you write a program to do it (by any means).
So yes, FlightPrep, you might be “playing by the rules”, just like the smart bullies did in elementary school. It doesn’t mean we want to be your friends any more.

Fire the person who thought that going after one of the most-used pilot tools on the web would be beneficial to anyone (including FlightPrep) and, after enough time to regain your reputation, I’ll consider using your software. If you’re still around.

(By the way, I prefer ForeFlight’s software to FlightPrep’s. I assume they’ll be sued next).