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Dec. 6, 2021

Nelson Mullins Secures Substantial Arbitration Victory for Aviation Communications Client

Atlanta – A Nelson Mullins trial team recently secured a major arbitration victory for SmartSky Networks, LLC against its former technology vendor Wireless Systems Solutions, LLC (“WSS”) and related companies and individuals. After a two-week arbitration hearing, an arbitration panel found in favor of SmartSky on its claims for breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, and related claims, awarding over $12.5 million in monetary relief and a permanent injunction to prevent misuse of SmartSky intellectual property.

SmartSky is a market leader in air-to-ground broadband wireless communications networks for the business aviation market, with over 230 issued patents covering its technology. SmartSky contracted with WSS to develop and manufacture various components of its air-to-ground communications system, but WSS failed to deliver and instead (with its affiliates) began using SmartSky’s own proprietary technology to compete against it in the aviation communications market. The Nelson Mullins team filed a federal lawsuit and arbitration claims against WSS, which culminated in a two-week, in-person arbitration hearing held in Charlotte, N.C.  from May 10-21.

In its recent 81-page arbitration award, the panel of three experienced and distinguished arbitrators ruled in favor of SmartSky on virtually all of its claims. The panel found that WSS breached its contracts with SmartSky and that WSS and its companion companies and owners/officers misappropriated SmartSky trade secrets and engaged in deceptive trade practices and false advertising. The panel awarded SmartSky $10 million in damages and approximately $2.5 million in legal fees and expenses, arbitration expenses, and monetary sanctions for the opposing parties’ violation of interim arbitration orders. The panel also issued a permanent injunction against the opposing parties, preventing them from using SmartSky’s intellectual property and the proprietary products developed for SmartSky in the aviation field. SmartSky has gone to Federal Court to have the arbitration award confirmed.

SmartSky General Counsel Rich Rowlenson says that “This legal decision was mission-critical for SmartSky as we worked toward launch into the commercial marketplace. I can’t say enough good things about the efforts of the Nelson Mullins team.” The Nelson Mullins litigation team that conducted the arbitration hearing consisted of Atlanta office partners Wade Malone, Mark VanderBroek, and Peter Munk along with Senior Paralegal Sarah Arnold. They received critical support from Charlotte-based partners Fred Wood and Ariel Roberson and Atlanta associate Elliott Henigan.

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