Adidas, Under Armour Battle over Mobile Health Patents


Adidas has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against fitness apparel competitor Under Armour over a number of digital health patents that cite technology used in Under Armour’s activity tracker product line.

The complaint, which was filed in Delaware last week, accuses Under Armour of willful infringement, a far more serious charge than direct infringement, meaning that Under Armour knew about Adidas’s patents, and continued to market its products regardless of them. Willful infringement is generally harder to prove, but is rewarded with much higher damages. 

Adidas claims that Under Armour must have known about its patents because they recently hired one of Adidas’ senior innovation engineers and named him their new director of innovation and research. The new hire reportedly brought an in depth knowledge of Adidas’s patent portfolio with him. The compliant says that several Under Armour devices and apps are still being sold even though the new Director of Innovation and Research must have known that they violate Adidas patents.


Armour39 is Under Armour’s activity tracking product line and is the primary offending product cited in Adidas’ complaint. Armour39 is a wireless heart rate monitor that is worn on a chest strap during workouts. It transmits real-time heart rate, caloric output data, and proprietary metrics like intensity and will power to either a smartphone app or an Armour39 digital watch.

Adidas has been working on a very similar platform, called the Adidas miCoach. Like Armour39, the miCoach comes as either a watch or a oval device that straps to the chest and captures data from workouts that includes heart rate, sprint force, cut force, jump force, and workout times. The information is wirelessly transmitted to an iOS app for real-time performance feedback.

While the two products are similar, Under Armour has taken recent steps to differentiate its platform. Under Armour acquired MapMyFitness last year for $150 million, and in doing so inherited its 20 million active users. During the acquisition announcement, executives from Under Armor and MapMyFitness suggested that plans of integrating data from Armour39 into the MapMyFitness apps were already in the works.

Strategically, it would be in Adidas’ best interest to prevent that from happening. In this lawsuit, Adidas lists both the MapMyFitness apps and the Armour39 platform as illegally using patented Adidas technology. Adidas is seeking an immediate, and permanent, injunction on sales for either Armour39 or MapMyFitness.

As with virtually all modern patent infringement cases, Adidas backs up its claims by citing a group of US patents that describe broad, generic mHealth concepts that would likely apply to anyone working in the activity tracker or mobile health market. Adidas claims that Under Armour is infringing on its intellectual property by offering products that wirelessly “transmit data obtained during a user fitness activity,” and offering apps capable of “receiving data from another device, for example a heart rate monitor, and associating data from such device with other information regarding a fitness activity.”

In total, Adidas cites 10 mHealth focused patents in the complaint. In addition to an injunction on future sales, the company is asking to be awarded triple damages, an amount only authorized in willful infringement cases.

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