August 26, 2013
Due to a recent legal settlement, 1 transit agencies across the country will now be able to provide real-time travel data to the public without fear of litigation. This real-time data is used to provide bus and train arrival times and information on travel delays through mobile devices, the internet, and digital displays at rail stations and bus stops, and has been shown to help increase transit use.
As the Georgetown Climate Center and multiple transit agencies identified last year, a company called ArrivalStar had been threatening lawsuits against transit agencies and others who tried to provide the public with arrival and departure information for buses or trains, citing patent infringement on its broadly-worded patents covering sharing of real-time vehicle information.
The Georgetown Climate Center worked with state agencies, APTA, and other stakeholders to identify the issue and explore potential solutions. GCC developed legal and policy research, convened interested stakeholders and legal experts, and helped raise the issue with federal policy makers.
The settlement ensures that 1,500 member agencies of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) can now provide bus and train status information to their customers to help them make informed travel decisions, which could reduce travel times and decrease climate pollution from the transportation sector.
APTA's lawsuit claimed that ArrivalStar's patents were invalid and unenforceable. The group also asserted that the 11th Amendment prohibits state and regional entities from being subject to such suits.
Prior to the settlement, many public agencies, which already face limited public resources, would either settle out of court when faced with litigation or cease their attempts to provide taxpayers with real-time travel data.
To learn more, see the following related post: "Why Is a Patent Troll in Luxembourg Suing U.S. Public Transit Agencies?"
1American Public Transportation Association v. ArrivalStar S.A., No. 1:13-cv-04375 (S.D.N.Y. filed Jun. 25, 2013).