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DJI’s US drone market under a cloud

DJI has been issued with a patent infringement-based cease and desist order prohibiting the Chinese drone maker from selling a large chunk of its consumer range in the US:  Mavic Pro; Mavic Pro Platinum; Mavic 2 Pro; Mavic 2 Zoom; Mavic Air; and Spark. These represent some of DJI’s most popular consumer drones.

The Mavic Air 2 is among the suite of drones DJI will be prohibited from selling in the US if the patent infringement decision is upheld.

On March 2, the chief administrative law judge of the US International Trade Commission found that SZ DJI Technology Co Ltd, the world’s largest manufacturer of consumer drones, violated Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, by importing and selling drones that infringe US patents belonging to US competitor Autel. As a result the judge recommended that the infringing products be excluded from importation into the United States.

The initial determination also recommended a cease and desist order prohibiting DJI from selling any of those products already in the United States at the time the exclusion order issues. It also granted Autel’s request that DJI post a significant monetary bond during the 60-day Presidential review period following the exclusion order.

If the chief administrative law judge’s determination is upheld by the full commission, these products could be taken off the US market as early as July. In the meantime, Autel has filed a petition with the ITC to extend the exclusion order to include other popular DJI products including the Phantom 4 and Inspire series drones.

DJI has been scrapping with the US government on security issues as well. Earlier this year the US Interior Department ground its fleet of about 800 ‘Chinese-made’ (ie, DJI) drones. The US military had already slapped a ban on personnel using DJI drones. DJI has also been lobbying strongly against the US Department of Interior for   the introduction of ‘light-touch’ rules for consumer drone registration.


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