French court to referee security drone patent war
You know a bone is really good when two dogs are willing to start a fight over it.
Maybe that did not some right. Because, when has a bone ever not been delicious to a dog? For goodness’s sake, the adorable animal cannot even tell if the bone is fake or not.
If it has the right shape, then it must be a bone; a dog will not mind braving a few body scratches over it.
And just like in the analogy above, we know the security drone sector is most likely to experience the next boom in the drone industry – because two companies in France are trading legal insults over it.
One of the drone companies, the Delta Drone Group – has planted solid roots in Africa, following its merger with Delta Drone South Africa early this year, and its recent purchase of Weesure Group, which will expand its reach in offering drone-based security solutions to companies in France and West Africa.
Through is subsidiary, Drone Protect Systems (DPS), Delta Drone has a solution for securing company premises, called the ISS Spotter. This security drone system comprises a drone resting peacefully in its docking station, which also serves as a charging port; until it is commanded into action by the control centre.
On command, the drone leaves its docking station to carry out mixed patrol missions in the company human security personnel on general patrol duties around company premises.
Also, it can fly fully autonomous surveillance missions on its own; especially where there are suspicions of a security breach, triggered by the alarm going off, or security cameras picking out unusual activity on the premises. In these circumstances, the drone will act as a vanguard to survey the area; sending real time aerial footage of the survey area back to home base, so the command centre can assess danger before manpower can check in.
After an autonomous mission, the drone will return to its home in the docking station, where it will recharge and wait for the next mission.
“ISS SPOTTER is to date the only operational solution that provides all the necessary guarantees for deployment, combining the work of humans and technology,” said Gil Ancelin, then Chairman of Protec Security Systems, in 2019. “Aimed at improving the performance of our services and improving our teams’ skills, our solutions guarantee end users a result that is rarely matched thanks to this alliance of humans and technology on a controlled market.”
It is a pretty cool drone security system, right?
Because one can clearly see its potential to start a revolution in policing and security circles; a drone system making it easy for police and security officers in the field is an invention that has the real potential of saving a lot of lives, and we are all for it.
So, congratulations to DPS and Delta Drone for this unique innovation.
Or is it congratulations to them? Because there is another French drone-based security company, Azur Drones, which claims ownership to exactly the same technology that Delta Drone, through its DPS subsidiary, are claiming.
The most notable difference between these solutions is in their names; for while DPS calls its security drone solution the ISS Spotter, Azur Drones have Skeyetech.
“Skeyetech is a drone-in-a-box solution revolutionising security over sensitive sites,” the company says on its website. “It carries out patrols, threat identification or monitor crisis situations 24/7. Skeyetech is the first autonomous drone in Europe approved by authorities.
“Skeyetech is a fully autonomous drone solution for security and safety operations 24/7.
“Operated from the Security Center, the drone is sent on pre-recorded flight missions and can be triggered manually or automatically when an intrusion is detected by perimeter devices. During the flights, the operator monitors the drone’s camera just like any other PTZ camera. When the mission is finished, the drone returns automatically to its docking station to be recharged.
“Skeyetech drone offers a large daylight and thermal vision of any situation and constitutes a first intervention in case of threat. It also replaces inefficient and dangerous manned patrols in a much more efficient way.
“Skeyetech system has just received the first and only DGAC approval for a fully-automated drone, proving the safety, reliability and quality of the solution. It can fly over private areas, Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS), day or night, under simple supervision of a security guard – with no pilot license.”
While the security drone market may be excited – as evidenced by some companies committing to pay the €150,000 that Azur Drones are asking for each unit – Delta Drone has taken umbrage at this, claiming that the former stole their patented intellectual property and should stop production of Skeyetech.
Because, Delta Drone alleges, the technology does not belong to them. Court papers say DPS filed a patent on this technology in June 2017, which was then granted by INPI in June 2019.
Delta Drone even went as far as mandating a bailiff to seize computer files on the Azur Drones website in Mérignac (Gironde), including source codes of the Skeyetech system.
“Azur Drones has the will to expand in the security segment, but does not have any assets for this,” charged Christian Viguié, CEO of Delta Drone, adding that the Skeyetech system had siphoned and usurped an invention which it does not own.
According to reports from France, Delta Drone has filed a subpoena with the courts, in which it is seeking damages of €2.9 million, with Azur Drones having sold nineteen drone systems last year at 150,000 euros each. In addition, the plaintiff is also calling for a halt to production and marketing of the system sold by Azur Drones.
Bordeaux-based Azur Drones’ Skeyetech won a contract to ensure security at the Hague nuclear site in the Netherlands.
In response to the allegations, Jean-Marc Crépin, CEO of Azur Drones, maintained that his company has done nothing wrong.
“We have invested nearly 30 million euros in the development of autonomous drone technology for the past five years,” Crepin said.
We hope the situation gets settled in good time, because this technology could be really the game changing stuff that the doctor ordered for the security and policing industry.