DJI Barred from the USA? US International Trade Commission Rules Drones Violated Patent

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Popular drone manufacturer DJI just got somewhat of a setback from the US ITC in the form of a ruling that says the company violated some patents when it made its drones.

white and black drone on white surface
Photo by Cottonbro from Pexels.

But that’s not the worst part. The ruling also recommends that DJI’s products be barred from import to the United States and that existing stock in the country should be pulled from the shelves.

That escalated quite quickly, didn’t it? So whose patents did DJI violate? A company called Autel claims that DJI’s designs in its “Mavic Pro, Mavic Pro Platinum, Mavic 2 Pro, Mavic 2 Zoom, Mavic Air, and Spark” violate its patents.

Represented by international law powerhouse Steptoe, Autel’s win is a pretty big deal and could even become a political issue as trade tensions heat up between the United States and China.

DPReview reports that Autel also petitioned to have sales of the Phantom 4 and Inspire models suspended though, as the website notes, the Inspire 1 and the majority of the Phantom 4 lineup are discontinued.

Because of the ruling, DJI has to post a “9.9% bond” while the ruling is reviewed. DPReview apparently reached out to DJI for comment on this ruling but did not hear back from them as of press. We’ll keep you updated on this story as new developments arise.

This isn't the first time DJI was the subject of some kind of controversy, but they were pretty vocal about how they were cast in the media which makes the lake of any comment so far interesting.

What do you think of the US ITC ruling? Do you pilot a DJI drone? Let us know your thoughts on this story in the comments section below if you like.

Don’t forget to check out our other photography news here on Light Stalking by clicking this link.

[DPReview]

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Kehl is our staff photography news writer and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here

For the past 40+ years China has built built it’s economy by engaging in mass corporate espianoge. It’s about time that they were called out on it and made to pay the price of their dishonesty.

No… No it most certainly wouldn’t. If the US decideds to ban the sale of DJI products in the U.S. that means it’s illegal to import them into the U.S. from anywhere. Believe it or not patent law is actually enforced by the U.S. Secret Service, but is enforcable by border patrol, TSA and customs. So unless a retailer plans to sell smuggled black market drones out of the back of a pickup truck, then it wouldn’t increase Canadian sales. Further, most of Canada’s DJI supply comes from the DJI warehouse hub in Atlanta, Georgia, not directly from China.

If the US bans the sale of DJI products, it would more likely have a negative impact on Canadian sales, with less availability and drop ship options. Our market is absolutely tiny compared to the U.S. (1/10 the size), so there’d be no reason to export large batches of product to North America.

so instead of competing with better and cheaper drones, you push them out of the market using the infamous american patent circus… err system

Part of any worthwhile company is integrity. If you rip someone off you deserve to get burned to the ground. This ensures an ever fair marketplace in regards to intellectual property moving into the future. But then again its likely you take similar shortcuts if you can’t see the problem with this and i might as well be talking to a wall at that point

What about the integrity of the government? Starting playing these low ball political games USA will find its own credibility in the gutter. Sure use patents and copy rights to eliminate the market leader and competitions who’s not American, it’s so obvious and good luck to going backwards in the technology driven age. BTW there’s many world countries in the West also disagree with the US patent ways, patent and does nothing, not even has the technical details unlike some other reputable countries, case in point, all the patent rulings differences between the Samsung vs apple.

Maybe manufacture them here in the US. Oh yeah we don’t have as many slaves. Guys have been building them here for years but they want to rob OUR ideas and benefit from them. China is a competing business entity. Wanna play here gotta play by our rules. They always retreat back to thier system. This is business, and if you haven’t noticed they have an unlimited supply of economic slave labor. They profit by breaking OUR laws. Sorry DJI great product but at who’s expense…

Unlimited supply of economic slave labor… great product but at whose expense? Isn’t that how the USA became great?….hummm

Patent in 2020 is just stupid and a big issue for innovation.
This is a big hit for every consumer want to buy a good Product but some stupid lawyer decide he can scavenge anything is remotely possible.
Just ban any parents this is the XXI century if any one noticed yet.

Complete bullshit way to ruin the drone business. Dji makes great products and has 70% of the market share. Autel has one product and constant delays, poor availability and no inventory. Way to fuck up my business Autel!!!

I own DJI drones because you get a lot more for your money. Only recently has Autel actually had a decent drone but the cost of it is out of most consumers budget and you don’t get a lot for your money.

Sounds like Autel cant compete, so they use the broken system to keep a better product out of the USA. So sad, I was considering buying their new drone too. Not anymore.

A move like banning DJI will only drive up the prices. And certainly lead to a lot less cooperation with the FAA. All of which is bad for everyone!

I fly a drone that is registered and I am FAA licensed. Many make a huge deal of drones but it is the few that cause issues that are problem. It’s very easy to stay within FAA guidelines. But this blue Angel’s incident makes it harder on all the professionals.

Again, the U.S is doing everything they can, to halt China having technology in their country. I.E. Huewui and now DJI

This is absolutely absurd, they’re upset with DJI for producing “by my opinion” better more affordable drones with more integrated technology. Granted China does have a bad habit of copyright infringement, even with smaller drone companies copying DJI’s designs. But in this particular case it’s not the that but the fact that DJI is being a superior product that anyone can operate and afford.

I have a DJI Drone and have loved it from day 1! Sounds like a back-door lame ass move on Autels (who is that?) part to try and push out a good company making great drones! Shame on you Autel-grow up and strive to beat our DJI with better products not lame ass political tactics.

They are driving the cost up through the roof. (hardware and drones) We don’t even have our OWN hardware companies in the US. We are becoming dependant on them (and other countries)for everything, and in turn have to give them our ideals to steal just to prototype. It’s like building an electric car and being dependant on China for batteries and hardware. Doesn’t make cents. #$&C

Seems like political retaliation for China putting some major US company’s on the “untrustworthy” list. Why can’t everyone just play nicely!?

Wow all you dweebs with your ignorant self importance, so willing to sell your freedom to China one cheep stolen product at a time. Please feel free to go to China and become a citizen there they will sell you all the stolen tech you can afford.
P. S. I own a DJI Mavic Pro 2 great product with stolen intellectual property! #Chinasucks

Well I’m lovey drones from DJI. What the hell does Autel manufacture? Now cause they are butt hurt about something they bring lawsuit. Not actually figuring out right and wrong, but who could afford the best attys. Meanwhile Joe Customer gets the shaft. I’ve got 2 Phantom 4’s one standard and one Advanced, one DJI Spark, a couple of DJI Tellos. I decided to go out from DJI one time and purchased a Karma Go Pro Drone. It’s no where near the drone that the DJI ‘s are. Well I guess if you can’t beat them then make your bullshit the only thing left that’s for sale. This doesn’t seem like capitalism at it’s finest.

You guys do realize that Autel Intellegent Technologies is a Chinese company right? This isn’t a political scenario of a US company vs. Chinese company. This is patent rights issue and one of who holds the ability to control a particular product. If Autel really does hold the patents for a particular tech… And can prove it… Then they are completely in their legal rights to shut out a competitor trying to steal that tech. For the record this is not the first time that DJI has been accused of this.

Does there exist the possibility that DJI could brick the software if all currently active drones in the USA so that they are all rendered inoperable? If political decoupling between the two countries escalates might this eventuality occur.

A sad day for major US drone lovers since DJI had a 77% market share in the country.
Sound likes a political move by the US rather technology infringement.

I think as a matter of principle, with how China has chosen to infect the entire globe with this horrific Wuhan virus, that we here in America should absolutely do our best not to employ the use of, Buy , sell, or trade anything made in China. In short, I think the whole world should turn it’s back on China. The government of China is our greatest geopolitical enemy, and the American people have to wake up to that fact and sacrifice making a buck with them simply because they can’t be trusted.

There are several considerations here. America used to be at the forefront of innovation and technology. It once produced quality products. However, for a host of reasons the details of which are beyond the scope of this comment, for many products, the quality is not there.

Take cars. In my opinion, there is only one car that is reliable, the Lexus, made by Toyota, a Japanese company. Who makes the best cameras, again, for the most part Japan. Of course there are German lenses, but again America strikes out.

Even our aircraft industry suffers. You would be surprised at how much junk is found left behind. By workers making commercial aircraft.

Indeed, the Chinese line to say that they just like to copy things. Magic is one of my hobbies. Magic effects are not patented because if the costs involved. Several well know magicians I know have had their effects ripped off by the Chinese who sell them for pennies on the dollar on eBay.

As for DJI, ironically, they not only rip off American intellectual property, they often rush units to market with bugs. Their customer service is terrible

I have often lamented the lack of American competition for DJI. But, they cannot compete with Chinese labor costs.

America have been brainwashed I to thinking that modern day Russia is a an enemy. In fact, in 1917 Russia was hijacked by the world communist movement rub out irepf NYC by Zionist Jews.

The Soviet experiment along with the Warsaw Pact ended long ago. This past 9th if May represents the 75th anniversary if Victory Over Europe. Americans have no idea how important this is to Russia.
They celebrate VE day EVERY year. The Germans essentially never set foot on American soil during the Great Patriotic War.

But every family in the USSR suffered during the war as Operation Barbarossa rolled over Soviet land. Over 20 million Soviets died in the war.

Do you really think the Russian people ever want war again? Dig online. See the yearly tributes, the masses of the former Soviet Republics March with pictures if those they lost during the war.

But, China, they use unscrupulous methods to get what they want. They run tourism anchor baby companies to help Chinese people work s loophole in our immigration system.

They spy. They streak. They, not modern day Russia, represent a clear and present danger to the US.

Yes, this will have serious reprecussions on the drone industry. American companiDzes will probably not fill a void if DJI drones are banned, but DJI must suffer the consequences for their corporate theft.

Hopefully, one day, a US company will step up to the plate and produce high quality UVAs.

International espionage… Not playing by US rules… High trade tensions with China… It’s all just US political insecurities
of the bully in the school yard loosing it’s grasp of control. So their law system protects some sore loosing company with inferior capabilities of competing in the market that they’ve ironically created way back when built on the foundations of US patent rules. Reality check! Countries have different patent rules that can be inherently conflicting to one another. Samsung vs Apple etc. This being said, the US has far to much global dominance especially regarding imports of goods which greatly affect the Canadian economy of available products. From the perspective of a Canadian film maker, this is a sign of bad things to come sadly.

approximately 2 days agoI checked the tracking number attached to a package I have on order from out of country inside the package is my DJImavic Pro 2 drone regarding the status of the package it is listed as being on hold with customs…..which is standard practice for anything coming into the country…but I don’t think I’ll ever see my drone…????

The way to beat cheaper copies is thru better customer support and faster innovation. Copiers clobe, they don’t create. DJI, for all its faults, innovates.
Prices are driven by production costs, competition and market size. DJI’s product appears to me (IMHO) to be flat-out better than Autels. Not cheaper, better. I’m with DJI here.

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