JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) — Less than two months after unveiling its new SmartSat technology, Lockheed Martin faces a patent infringement lawsuit from Vector Launch, a relatively new, smaller company that claims its patents on its GalacticSky “software-defined” micro-satellites preceded Lockheed’s concepts.
Arizona-based Vector Launch, started in 2016, filed the lawsuit April 5 in United States District Court in California. The suit seeks a permanent injunction against Lockheed Martin and an unspecified reward of damages, or, as reported by the Denver Business Journal, to have Lockheed Martin license technology from it and pay Vector Launch royalties from its future sales.
Lockheed Martin was founded in 1926 and employs more than 100,000 people. The majority of its revenue comes from contracts with the Department of Defense. The company’s facility in Jefferson County has 14,000 of those workers.
In a press release last April, Vector Launch said its GalacticSky software has been in development since 2016. In the lawsuit, the company states the platform was announced that same year at the Space Technology & Investment Forum in San Francisco, California. Patents cited in the lawsuit were awarded in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
“After exhausting all non-legal remedies, Vector saw no other path forward than to take this legal action, as we must protect our intellectual property rights,” the company’s press release stated.
Lockheed Martin trumpeted the SmartSat in a March 2019 press release.
“Imagine a new type of satellite that acts more like a smartphone,” said Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin Space, Rick Ambrose, that day. “Add a SmartSat app to your satellite in-orbit, and you’ve changed the mission.”