By Eric Schweibenz and John Presper
On August 30, 2018, Autel Robotics USA LLC of Bothell, Washington (“Autel”) filed a complaint requesting that the ITC commence an investigation pursuant to Section 337.

The complaint alleges that SZ DJI Technology Co. Ltd. of China, DJI Europe B.V. of the Netherlands, DJI Technology Inc. of Burbank, California, iFlight Technology Co. Ltd. of Hong Kong, DJI Baiwang Technology Co. Ltd. of China, DJI Research LLC of Palo Alto, California, DJI Service LLC of Cerritos, California, and DJI Creative Studio LLC of Burbank, California (collectively, the “Proposed Respondents”) unlawfully import into the U.S., sell for importation, and/or sell within the U.S. after importation certain unmanned aerial vehicles and components thereof that infringe one or more claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 7,979,174 (“the ’174 patent”), 9,260,184 (“the ’184 patent”), and 10,044,013 (“the ’013 patent”).

According to the complaint, the asserted patents generally relate to various aspects and features of unmanned aerial vehicles (“UAVs”) such as quadcopters. In particular, the ’174 relates to a UAV that can adjust its speed due to the inputs from various sensors when flying along a predetermined flight path. The ’184 patent relates to a UAV with rotors that can be removably coupled to the UAV through a clockwise/counterclockwise locking mechanism that only allows the correct rotor to be attached to the corresponding electric motor of the UAV. The ’013 patent relates to a UAV with a battery assembly that is detachably connected to the UAV’s body.

In the complaint, Autel asserts that the Proposed Respondents import and sell products that infringe the asserted patents. The complaint refers to drones, rotors, rotor assemblies, actuators, propulsion assemblies, batteries, battery components, battery assemblies, controllers, processors, processing components, modules, chips, and circuits used in or with the foregoing that are made, sold, offered for sale, and/or imported by the Proposed Respondents, in particular the DJI Mavic, the DJI Spark, the DJI Phantom, and the DJI Inspire.

Regarding domestic industry, Autel states that it has made significant investments in plant and equipment, significant employment of labor and capital, and substantial investments in the exploitation of the asserted patents, including engineering, research and development, and technical and customer support. Autel specifically points to its EVO product, a portable camera drone, as a domestic industry product that practices at least one claim of each asserted patent.

As to related litigation, Autel identified (i) consolidated infringement lawsuits filed by SZ DJI and DJI Europe against Autel pending in the District of Delaware, in which Autel counterclaimed for infringement of the ’174 and ’184 patents; and (ii) an infringement suit filed by Autel against SZ DJI, DJI Europe, and DJI Technology in the Southern District of New York with respect to the ’174 and ’184 patents that was voluntarily dismissed.

Regarding potential remedy, Autel requests that the Commission issue a permanent limited exclusion order and permanent cease-and-desist orders directed to the Proposed Respondents.