In context: in the technology industry, patent disputes are the norm. It seems that one corporation accuses another always of sweeping away its legally safeguarded innovations and who will come in top will never be obvious. We’re once again seeing this trend: federal investigators are reportedly investigating Fitbit and Garmin is accusing both of them of violating the patents after his fellow wearable device maker Philips.
The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) released this news today for the first time in a press release. For those who do not know, this organization investigates unfair commercial practices, copyright, marks and patent disputes.
In this case, the same Philips who produces hue light bulbs, Philips, believes Garmin and Fitbit have photographed a couple of the patented smartwatch ideas for use in their own products and other wearable device manufacturers. Some of the disputed wearable gadget functions include activity monitoring and technology to alarm reporting.
In other words, it seems that Philips aims for a few very basic smartwatch features–or at least special applications of these features–to claim ownership. It remains to be seen whether or not these claims are held.
The research of the USITC has only just commenced and some time will come before concrete responses occur. Representatives of all “respondent” businesses should be questioned and evidence looked for to substantiate or detract from Philips claims.
The USITC has confirmed that “no decisions have been made yet” on the merits of this case. The announcement today is only this; an admission that Philips or Garmin did in fact violate some patent laws, and no clarification. However, in 45 days, the USITC will disclose a “target date” for completion of its research, so we shall make sure that when this information is released we will update this article.
Fitbit is best known for its varied range of fitness trackers, like the Charge or Versa 2, if you are not familiar with the products developed in the firms mentioned above. Garmin’s product line-up is slightly different: it manufactures fitness trackers, smartwatches, GPS and more.
The only wearable device of Philips is its “Health Watch,” which is not officially available on the company’s website to be purchased. It took a huge price of 250 dollars and offered other fitness trackers on the market with very similar characteristics.
For its part, Fitbit is not too satisfied with these charges. The company said in its statement to The Verge, “we believe this claim is worthless and is a consequence of Philips’s failure to succeed in the wearable market. We’re going to have to wait and see who’s going to win this patent battle.