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Threats Made Over FlightPrep Coverage

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Late Tuesday, December 21st, and followed a few hours later in the wee hours of the morning of December 22nd, we received threatening emails from a person calling himself Dave Merril. The email was pretty nasty... pretty much threatening to ruin our Christmas/business/lives via all kinds of threats and mis-deeds because of our FlightPrep coverage. The combined emails were long-winded, closely parroted the claims and positions of FlightPrep's public statements and blog entries, and were… (www.aero-news.net) और अधिक...

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bhumphreys
Brent Humphreys 0
if there was any doubt that FlightPrep is evil, then this should convince everyone.
klimchuk
klimchuk 0
Can somebody go to police and shut down that FlightPrep forever?
aksail
Everett Clary 0
If you can obtain known samples of writing by the person/persons suspected of penning the emails in question, running those samples and the emails through a program that evaluates writing for repetitive words, misspellings and grammatical errors, may give you an indication of whose writing style resembles that of the offending emails. Programs of that type are used in evaluation of essays etc.
klimchuk
klimchuk 0
This is crime to call like that. And it's easy to track the calls.
willyzhouse
willyzhouse 0
I've been following this discussion is various places in the aviation community and it's clear that it has everyone riled up. That makes total sense since the data and technology that Flightprep provides seems to be a cornerstone of the amazing technological progression we've made in aviation over the last 10 years.

We're clearly being faced with a choice of regressing our aviation data tools or paying for it. In my personal opinion, this is as much about questioning the basic assumptions of the internet i.e. free data vs. paid data. It's certainly complicated and merits healthy discourse to get to some position that works for most people.

When I try to look at this objectively (note: I'm not objective, I use Flightprep and Foreflight), I'm conscious that most arguments of this complexity probably have merits on both sides. Certainly Flightprep has a product that has some value and now they want to get paid for it. I'm a businessman, so I can understand that. The users of that data and data interface see that they'll either have to pay for it or quit using it. I don't have any ability to discern all the facts on this.

It is clear that Flightprep is playing with sharp sticks here and I'm guessing that's what most of us are reacting. I doubt that people are reacting to the capitalistic behavior. After all, it is Flightprep's data and if you don't want to pay for it, don't use it. We have markets to help us enforce our preferences. I would ask everyone to consider how they would handle it if they owned this product; would you give it away? Isn't a clever approach to get everyone reliant on your free product and then start charging for it?

All that being said, I find that the article above undermines the argument of "our side" by it's strident tone. It doesn't seem to have the cool (pseudo) objective tone of journalism and I think that it lessens the strength of it.

Granted, if someone aggressively took away my livelihood and threatened me, I'd be yelling at the top of my lungs while I kicked their ass.

The point of my words here today are that this is a critical debate in our community and we all have a stake in it. Our responsibilities as stakeholders in the outcome include being respectful of all points of view and most importantly doing our best to discern what is a fact and what is an opinion.
rhornsby
Richard Hornsby 0
@Nikolay It might be "easy" to track the calls, but anytime I've ever needed help from ATT and/or Sprint, they've claimed there is absolutely nothing they can do - they don't have the callerID information they say. Certainly this is BS, because the computers keep records of where calls originated, etc -- but getting the telco off their lazy ass is another matter. Law enforcement is generally also not helpful to private citizens until the threats reach some threshold for frequency or evidence of intent/opportunity to carry out any such threats.
bhumphreys
Brent Humphreys 0
willyzhouse

Your statements are completely inaccurate.
1. Flightprep does not provide any data to these third parties.
2. Flightprep does not provide any technology to these third parties.

Flightprep contends that the patent they hold is infringed on by these third parties. However, that has not been proven. I also suspect that the patent, if tested, would be invalidated by prior art.

If flightprep really believes they have a defensible patent, I would welcome them taking legal action against a company that can afford to contest it. AOPA, Jeppesen come to mind.
willyzhouse
willyzhouse 0
I appreciate the correction. I think it illustrates my point. I didn't claim any understanding of the technical or legal details of the issue. Unless I'm a computer technical person who also happens to practice patent law, I'm merely expressing my opinion.

My point was that the conversation would best be conducted in a civil and rational manner and that there are 2 sides to every argument. I don't think that my erroneous belief about what the minute details of the disagreement change that.

To be clear: I don't like one bit that I'm either going to have to give up a tool or pay for it and my statement that the strident tone undermines the argument was oriented toward helping "our side" of this debate.

Again, I do appreciate your pointing out my incorrect statements because now I'm a little closer to understanding the actual truth.

Cheers and happy new year.
bhumphreys
Brent Humphreys 0
Bill

It's not about having to pay for something. It's the predatory manor in which flight prep is operating. There are many, many patent holders that do not use them as a weapon.

Also, the idea of this patent is ridiculous. If ever there was an obvious extension of what everyone was doing.

I was developing online applications in 1997, and when I saw the first flight planning application, I was not surprised. It was a normal extension of an every day activity. There was no Invention here.
rhornsby
Richard Hornsby 0
@Brent: correct. There is no invention here. I briefly reviewed some of the patent documents. FlightPrep has managed to convince the patent office to grant them an exclusive license for flight planning. It just happens to be on a website. It used to be just the idea of something wasn't patentable. It had to be a specific implementation. I was free to improve on what I thought was a crappy design that I could do better. Patents didn't mean you got a license to bash other companies who came up with different/better versions of a "an electrical light producing device" - aka a lightbulb. "Light producing device" is often what software patents boil down to. Not a specific bulb with a specific type of glass, a specific gas mixture, a specific filament alloy, etc.
rhornsby
Richard Hornsby 0
ftr, IANAL. I'm a software developer.
grandpa501
Les Eders 0
maybe like all pieces of crap they will dry up and blow away.....
captainjman
Jason Feldman 0
Does this at all effect fltplan.com?
JoeConner
JoeConner 0
Some countries do not issue patents for software. The USA should not either.
captainjman
Jason Feldman 0
Now hang on a second....

I do not claim to be an expert by any means, but I would think that patent/copyright is a good thing. The very best in software will be produced when there is a promise of reward for your efforts. What is the motivation (if not financial) to create amazing software (or anything else for that matter) if people can just take it away from you!?

Is there a difference between copyright and patent in this discussion?

Joeconner's comment above is what sparked my question. If in fact he means that copyright and patents should not be issued for software I strongly disagree. So what if other countries don't do it... I havent seen a huge software company worth a damn produce any software that "I" use that was invented in another country.

Yes I know labor from other countries were used, india israel, etc etc... but on my computer I have apple, microsoft and a few us based software companies... all based in the USA. If there was no way to protect your intellectual property why would you bust your rear end to produce high end software?

Educate me - Im curious?

BTW - I have no idea who these people are, what flightprep is trying to accomplish or how it will impact me
MikeRigg
Mike Rigg 0
I believe most of the aviation community supports a company's right to apply for and defend a patent. Yet a large majority also believe rightly or wrongly in this case that the patent was erroneously awarded because "prior art" existed. Most of us also are turned off by what seems to be heavy-handed legal tactics by Flight Prep. Both of those widely-shared views of Flight Prep have created a public relations nightmare for Flight Prep. None of us know what the courts would say about the legality of the patent, but even if they do have a valid claim here and prevail, Flight Prep should look up "Pyrrhic victory".

( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrrhic_victory )
captainjman
Jason Feldman 0
What caused this? it seems all of a sudden their name and this story popped up everywhere. I am not even sure what products or services would be effected. What made them attack now? Did something provoke them?
JoeConner
JoeConner 0
I did not realize that my comments would set off a controversy. Please however in your discussing my comments please keep in mind that there are very clear distinctions between patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Anything written is probably eligible for a copyright. As for software patents, there is an ongoing debate about whether or not software should be granted a patent. Patent requirements vary widely from country to country. The trend is toward granting patients. A current software country patent availability chart may be viewed at:
http://www.softwareprotection.com/chart.htm If you are interested in comparing the US software patent law with Europe take a look at SOFTWARE PATENT LAW: UNITED STATES AND EUROPE COMPARED http://www.law.duke.edu/journals/dltr/articles/2003dltr0006.html
JoeConner
JoeConner 0
A second point as to Jason Feldman's comments "f there was no way to protect your intellectual property why would you bust your rear end to produce high end software?" I generally agree, but there are exceptions. In particular, with OpenOffice.org which is an extremely capable software suite that is in many respects the better of Micro$oft office. Investigate it at www.openoffice.org if you care to. The free software foundation is noteworthy in this respect. http://www.fsf.org/
captainjman
Jason Feldman 0
Joe - I cannot thank you enough for good solid facts to back up your information. As I stated before, I have very little working knowledge of these matters.

The one argument I have to the open office vs Microsoft office debate: They are two different business models. One is based on making money by selling the software and one by advertisement. I am actually surprised that microsoft did not go after open office for infringing on their software. Even the name "open office" is so similar in nature to Microsoft's software name. Almost taunting them.

Perhaps the "free software" model is better now after the PC market has developed while in the beginning it made more sense driven by profit. Time will tell.

Still, what products will this lawsuit effect if won? Jepp? Flightplan.com? airnav? Who/what do we stand to lose? How much would it cost us?
JoeConner
JoeConner 0
This discussion is now getting off the point. But, OpenOffice.org (originally Star Office) was developed primarily by SUN MICROSYSTEMS in Germany (now owned by Oracle). It has many dedicated developers who volunteer their effort as a labor of love. I shall not comment further about software patents or alleged patent infringement. I am very interested in how the FlightPrep noise gets settled. Joe Conner - licensed ground school instructor and aircraft dispatcher.
tlattebery
tlattebery 0
Patents and copyrights are two totally different animals. Copyright is virtually automatic and can last forever for printed materials and works of art. I've never heard anyone argue that software shouldn't be copyrighted. Patents are only good for 17-20 years and apply to inventions and processes. The Supreme Court is still trying to determine the tests for what makes a process patentable. It used to only apply to processes to make new chemicals and materials. Now some people, like FlightPrep, think it should apply to electronic processes like drawing virtual lines on virtual charts. A lot of people think that is going to far. It's like saying Facebook should get a patent for "a process for connecting friends over the interenet".
captainjman
Jason Feldman 0
Why was our discussion erased?
JoeConner
JoeConner 0
It must have been a temp glitch, I still can see our conversation.
pfyust
Paul Yust 0
Flightpre is nothing more than a bully with lawyers. Flightprep lacks the skill and knowledge to create a "competing" product so they just hire lawyers to sue the better products out of business. I have joined the boycott of Flightprep. I will NEVER BUY ANY FLIGHTPREP PRODUCTS or buy any products related to Roger M. Stenbock or Kyle B. Everson who are the people hiding behind the lawyers.
captainjman
Jason Feldman 0
Allow me to be devils advocate for just a moment - just promise me not to read this if you dont have an open mind. I have no actual inside knowledge of any of these dealings but decided to contact flightprep for their explanation of what is going on. Their answer seems reasonable.

Can we all agree that there are usually 3 sides to every story and that so far we have only heard one of those sides? Has anyone here read their press release on the subject? How many of us are lawyers? My guess is that there are a few lawyers and many speculators. But my understanding is that the lawyers themselves don't "REALLY" know either.

SUPPOSEDLY - they did contact those companies prior to suing them. They even offered them temporary authorization to continue their work while they work out their negotiations. They refused to even answer the certified letters. Now we can argue until we are blue in the face but perhaps the prudent thing to do is let courts do their thing and if in fact flightprep is wrong, a nice countersuit seems inevitable.

I still don't know enough to make a decision about copyright vs patent. And I really hope to learn something new out of all this. I hope its possible to ask these questions and make these comments on this forum without people losing their minds. But someone has to ask the hard questions or there is no conversation just a bunch of people chanting the same rhetoric.

by the way, i know nothing about any of these companies involved. If flightprep is in the wrong aviation is a very small community :)
pfyust
Paul Yust 0
Jason and @Bill - I am suspicious that you are plants for Flightprep. You have too many posts in the first place. Second, one of the other big Flightprep scandals is Flightprep sending a nasty email to all of the people that emailed Flightprep in the first place with genuine concerns. Many of the points you two makes sound a lot like the B.S. sprouting from Flightprep and their shady lawyers.
captainjman
Jason Feldman 0
Anyone not ready to crucify a person or company on partial information must be a spy? What world do you live in. To be honest i dont normally post on any boards but for some reason this issue caught my attention.

Paul, Maybe you are a spy for the other companies involved? Haha.

Conspiracy theory aside, do we all agree there are three sides to every story?

Oh, and as for me, i am a captain at a fractional not connected in any way to any of the companies involved.

लॉगिन

क्या आपका कोई खाता नहीं है? अनुकूलित विशेषताओं, फ्लाइट अलर्टों,और अधिक के लिए अब(नि:शुल्क) रजिस्टर करें!
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