Jawbone goes after Fitbit in court, again
Back in May, IPBiz discussed IP issues between Jawbone and Fitbit in the post
Jawbone suing Fitbit over poaching of employees and confidential information
Now, on June 17, Buzzfeed reports:
Jawbone is suing Fitbit for infringing on its patented wearable technology. It’s bad news for Fitbit, the biggest activity-tracker maker in the world — but if Jawbone wins, it will also mean trouble for Apple, Samsung, and basically any other wearable company that attempts to track movement and equate it to health.
Last week, Jawbone sued Fitbit for infringing on patented technologies that broadly use sensors to detect, collect, and interpret data about users’ health and fitness biometrics. In Jawbone’s reckoning, those functions sound uncannily similar to “virtually all of Fitbit’s wearable technology line.”
If Jawbone’s patents hold up, they would be ammunition against the Apple Watch — which, with Apple’s clout and capital, threatens to swallow both Jawbone and Fitbit’s market share.
“If I’m Jawbone,” Marlett said, “I want to take down Fitbit first before I go and attack Apple.”
If that happens, it wouldn’t be the first time a company successfully went after a target and then took on a bigger rival. In 2001, NTP, a Virginia patent holding company, sued Research in Motion, the company behind BlackBerry, for allegedly infringing on its wireless email patents. After NTP won a $612.5 million settlement, it went on from 2007 to 2010 to sue more than a dozen other tech giants, including AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, for infringing on those patents, too.
**See also article in the Wall Street Journal: Jawbone Hits Fitbit With Second Lawsuit in Two Weeks
**IPBiz notes that it is "standard operating procedure" to seek licenses from smaller entities (and sue such companies if licensing talks break down).
Buzzfeed also observed:
Fitbit says it has more than 200 granted and pending patents. (A search of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office turns up about 100 patents granted from 2012 onward.) Meanwhile, Jawbone, including BodyMedia, claims to have “hundreds” of granted and pending patents (about 150 granted patents going back to 2001 show up online).
IPBiz found 96 issued US patents with assignee Fitbit.
The most recent was US 9,050,488 (issued 9 June 2015) with first claim:
An apparatus comprising:
one or more biometric sensors; at least one user interface element; at least one processor; and a memory, wherein: the memory, the at least one processor, the at least one user interface element, and the one or more biometric sensors are communicatively connected with one another, and the memory stores computer-executable instructions for controlling the at least one processor to:
a) receive biometric data from the one or more biometric sensors;
b) calculate at least one biometric performance measurement using the biometric data;
c) determine at a first time that the at least one biometric performance measurement indicates that a first biometric performance goal has been met during a first goal achievement window;
d) determine, after the first time, that the biometric data indicates that a wearer of the apparatus is engaged in a first fitness activity associated with the first biometric performance goal;
e) cause the at least one user interface element to provide, responsive to (d), a secondary indicator that signals that the first biometric performance goal has been met; f) receive, after (d) and (e), an input signal indicative of a user interaction with the apparatus; and
g) cause the at least one user interface element to output a first goal celebration indicator associated with the first biometric performance goal after c) and responsive to f) when the input signal is received at a second time after the first time.
The earliest patent in the list of 96 is US 8,180,591, with first claim
A portable monitoring device, adapted to couple to a body of a user, to calculate a number of stairs or flights of stairs traversed by the user, the portable monitoring device comprising: a housing having a physical size and shape that is adapted to couple to the body of the user; a motion sensor, disposed in the housing, to detect motion of the user and, in response thereto, to generate data which is representative of motion of the user; an altitude sensor, disposed in the housing, to sample an altitude of the user in response to a sample signal, wherein, in response to sampling the altitude of the user, the altitude sensor generates data which is representative of a change in altitude of the user; and processing circuitry, disposed in the housing and coupled to the motion sensor and the altitude sensor, to: generate the sample signal using the data which is representative of motion of the user, and calculate a number of stairs or flights of stairs traversed by the user using the data which is representative of motion of the user and the data which is representative of a change in altitude of the user.
An article in ManagingIP [An Unfit Lawsuit ] states that Jawbone has 97 granted US patents.
***UPDATE on June 25