Two Major Sports Manufacturers Begin A Costly Brawl - Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal
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Two Major Sports Manufacturers Begin A Costly Brawl

Two Major Sports Manufacturers Begin A Costly Brawl

New Year’s Resolutions are still in our thoughts as we approach mid-February. For many, exercise is an important resolution. With mobile apps such as MapMyRun, MiCoach, and Armour29, personal trainers may become extinct. These technologies allow users to track fitness goals via mobile devices. One can plan a workout, track a workout, receive live coaching, and analyze the workout via mobile applications.

Last Tuesday, two well-known sports manufacturers became involved in a match against each other over these technologies. Adidas, founded in 1948, is known for its logo of three parallel bars in a triangle shape. Although founded many years later in 1996, Under Armour is widely known for its “sweat-wicking” material. Adidas has commenced an action against Under Armour for infringement of patents protecting mobile devices meant for tracking various fitness accomplishments such as miles completed, calories burned, and heart rate attained.

MiCoach is the name of Adidas’s training platform. The company offers a watch that among other things, offers real-time coaching and tracking information for heart rate and distance. MiCoach then allows the user to upload workout data in order to track performance, come up with training plans, and receive tips and advice. In addition to the watch, the MiCoach program is also compatible via app on various devices such as mobile phones and desktop computers.

In November, Adidas acquired MapMyFitness, which compiles users’ workout data in order to allow users to track, share, and analyze workouts. The company operates various platforms such as MapMyRun, MapMyRide, and MapMyWalk. These applications allow users to track new routes, search old routes, and share routes with friends.

Under Armour also offers Armour39 as its own tracking platform. Like MiCoach, Armour39 offers a watch, chest strap, and mobile app for real-time tracking of heart rate, calories and distance, as well as “WILLpower”, which is defined by Under Armour as a single score measuring how hard the body works during a workout.

Patents are issued for any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof. (35 U.S.C. §101) The term of protection is for twenty years from the application filing. (35 U.S.C. §154). A patent grant gives the general right to preclude others from making, using, offering for sale, and selling, the patented item within the U.S. (35 U.S.C. §154).

Patent infringement may be brought against one who “makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States or imports into the United States any patented invention during the term of the patent therefore.” (35 U.S.C. §271).

Adidas has alleged that Armour39 and MapMyFitness products willfully infringe upon 10 of MiCoach’s patents protecting products and digital technology. Specifiaclly, Adidas has secured patents for the mobile technology enabling devices to track workout information. Eyebrows may be raised when considering UnderArmour’s new Director of Innovation and Research, was previously Adidas’ Senior Innovation Engineering Manager.

If Adidas is successful in proving infringement, UnderArmour may forced to take its products off the shelves; they may also  be responsible for large damages.

The lawsuit has been filed in U.S. District Court, District of Delaware, and can be referenced under Adidas AG v. Under Armour Inc., 14-cv-00130, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Julie Greenbaum