Under Armour Patents One-Armed Jacket Only a Pitcher Would Loveby
Company counting on technology to help it pursue rival Nike
Innovation offers relief to pitchers sweltering in the summer
Under Armour Inc. is aiming to solve one of baseball’s age-old problems with a new idea: a one-armed jacket.
A pitcher wearing a jacket between innings has long been one of the game’s accepted quirks, like the seventh-inning stretch or managers dressed in full uniforms and cleats. No matter if it’s a sweltering day in August, the typical pitcher will walk to the dugout at the end of an inning and put on a jacket. They often wear them if they get on base too. The goal is to keep the pitching arm warm and loose.
But oftentimes it’s just too hot -- after all, baseball is played during the summer. So the pitcher either sweats heavily or resorts to putting on one sleeve and trying to keep the jacket from falling off.
With the Major League Baseball season starting this weekend, Under Armour thinks it’s found a better way. The sporting-goods maker was granted a patent this week for an “arm warmer” that’s best described as a half-jacket with one sleeve -- made from the synthetic sweat-evaporating material that the company was founded on. There’s also a kind of mitt at the end of the sleeve for the pitcher to keep fingers cozy and adjustable vents for temperature control.
“It would be advantageous if the device could be used to keep a single arm and shoulder warm without the awkwardness of a full jacket,” Under Armour said in a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Also, “sweat has an adverse effect on gripping a baseball and is undesirable for the pitcher.”
A representative for Under Armour didn’t have an immediate comment beyond the filing. The patent application, which is not an April Fools’ Day joke, was filed two years ago and approved on March 29.
In its battle with larger rival Nike Inc., Under Armour keeps expanding into new categories, including all kinds of footwear and apparel. The push has helped it maintain annual sales growth rates of about 30 percent. After starting as a football brand, Under Armour now has products for baseball, basketball, soccer and golf. And much like Nike, the company has poured resources into product development.
In the past two years, Under Armour has been granted 41 patents in the U.S. for everything from zippers to water bottles, according to data collected by Bloomberg. Before that stretch, the company only had 51 patents in total since receiving its first one in 2007.
Obtaining a patent doesn’t mean for certain that the invention will be used in a product. Companies are granted millions of patents a year, and many never become a reality. Nike, for example, received 519 patents in just the past year.