I’m all in favor of strong competition in the market and I really love when that comes in the form of constantly improving products and services for consumers; doubly so if that also means lower overall prices in the market. For in-flight connectivity that seems very much to be the case as all the major players are innovating and increased competition, modernization of systems and increased consumption are all combining to reduce costs. In many ways we’re seeing very positive news in the space.
The flip side of the innovation, however, is intellectual property rights. Companies don’t want to invest millions upon millions of dollars to develop a system or technology and then see a competitor profit from the work. And, thanks to the US Patent & Trademark Office, there can be some protection offered for that R&D work. Gogo has added a line-item to their SEC filings to account for the value of their patent portfolio (initially a $500k valuation) recently and both Gogo and LiveTV have seen several patents granted recently plus several more IFEC-related patent applications are under consideration. It seems that not only are they battling for customers and higher speed services, but also for the rights to sell such services with specific configurations.
Will these patents ultimately derail the great progress we’ve seen of late? That would be a shame should it come to pass. I’m not suggesting that nothing should be patented or that the inventors should not receive legal protections, but I’m also selfish when it comes to wanting things to happen in my favor as a customer. Those don’t always line up so well.
Read more about the recent patent filings in the stories I’ve written for Runway Girl Network:
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