Adidas Says Under Armour Infringed Its Wearable-Tech Patents

Photograph by Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

As sporting goods companies race to sell wearable performance-tracking technology to fitness buffs, one of the major contestants is crying foul.

Germany’s Adidas has sued Baltimore’s Under Armour for alleged patent infringement of mobile-app technologies that monitor heart rates, calorie burn, and other indicators during workouts. In a complaint filed Feb. 4 in federal district court in Wilmington, Del., Adidas alleges that Under Armour’s Armour39 watches and chest straps, as well as technologies marketed by its MapMyFitness unit, have infringed 10 patents registered by Adidas (which is in Herzogenaurach, Germany) between 2007 and 2013. “Adidas is moving forward to protect digital technologies core to our miCoach product” lineup of performance-tracking technology, Adidas spokeswoman Katja Schreiber tells Bloomberg Businessweek.

In a statement today, Under Armour says, “MapMyFitness has been recognized as a pioneer in this category. We are aware of the lawsuit and are in the process of reviewing the complaint.”

The lawsuit says that Under Armour’s innovation and research chief formerly was a senior engineering manager at Adidas, giving the Baltimore company “direct knowledge of Adidas’s patent portfolio. The LinkedIn profile of Mark Oleson, who lists his current position as director of product and innovation at Under Armour, says that he worked from 2000 to 2011 as “senior innovation engineering manager” at Adidas in Portland, Ore.

The lawsuit comes as sporting-goods companies step up investment in their wearable-tech lineups. Nike is developing a portfolio of digital performance-tracking products marketed under the name Nike+. Under Armour last November paid $150 million to acquire MapMyFitness, which is based in Austin, Tex., and whose digital platforms are used by an estimated 20 million people worldwide to record and share data about their workouts. Smaller players such as Basis, FitBit, and Jawbone also are crowding the field.

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