1/5/2016, 1:12 PM (Source: TeleTrader)
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Apple, Fitbit sued over patents for wearables

Biometrics firm Valencell filed a lawsuit against Apple Inc. on Monday, claiming the tech giant based in Cupertino, California, used information obtained by deception and breach of contract to use technology for heart rate detection in its smartwatch. The wearable biometric data systems developer said today it also sued Fitbit Inc. for patent infringement at the Eastern District Court of North Carolina.

„Rather than manufacture its own wearables, Valencell has repeatedly chosen to partner with existing consumer electronics companies and manufacturers while continuing to focus our R&D on creating the future in biometric wearables,“ said Steven LeBoeuf, Valencell’s president, adding there are companies using patented inventions without a licence.

Fitbit’s products with disputed technology – Charge HR wristband and Surge smartwatch, were allegedly developed after obtaining information in a meeting with the research lab’s representatives at the CES electronic tradeshow in Las Vegas two years ago.  „During CES, Fitbit chief revenue officer, Woody Scal, after reviewing Valencell's wrist sensor module reference design, expressed great interest in the application of Valencell’s patented technology, including its wrist sensor modules. After CES, Mr. Scal did not respond to Valencell’s follow-up requests,” the lawsuit against Fitbit says. Valencell claims that the company headquartered in San Francisco subsequently began listing the disputed patents, after which the two devices were launched with heart rate sensors.

In Apple’s case, Valencell claims it was initially approached about a potential licencing of patents within a partnership. Later, without an agreement, Apple Watch was designed utilising information from research papers, says the lawsuit filed in North Carolina, where Valencell is registered. It cited a statement by Apple’s founder Steve Jobs that his company has “always been shameless about stealing great ideas.” Valencell said the infringements also involve devices other than the smartwatch.

In mid-December, Samsung took its patent court case with Apple, which it lost, to the United States Supreme Court. After earlier in the month it agreed to pay $548 million for infringement in the smartphones segment, the Korean competitor, but also partner in the business, appealed to the highest instance, claiming the jury wasn't informed well enough about the intellectual rights system. On top of it, Samsung cites unfair penalties in the case when a company is found to infringe on patents from multiple entities. The company stated the total value of related profits would have to be paid several times, and that the system diminishes innovation.

Apple initiated the suit in 2011 for features such as tap-to-zoom and multitouch gestures, and was initially awarded more than $1 billion, but Samsung managed to cut the figure through appeals. 

Baha Breaking News (BBN) / IT