Fitbit, Immersion settle lawsuit over haptic feedback patents

By Dave Muoio
02:55 pm

After filing a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California roughly a year ago, San Jose-based Immersion has settled its beef with Fitbit, the former announced in a statement. The terms of the settlement and license agreement reached by the two companies were not disclosed in the announcement.  

Immersion took issue with the haptic feedback technology featured in multiple generations of Fitbit’s activity trackers, and at the time sought a court order requiring Fitbit, and its Chinese distributor Runtong, "to immediately and permanently stop manufacturing, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing infringing Fitbit devices in both the US and China; as well as damages to compensate Immersion for the harm the infringement has inflicted.”

The suit specifically named three patents on haptics technologies held by Immersion: patent number 8,351,299, “Apparatus and Method for Providing Condition-Based Vibrotactile Feedback”;  patent number 8,059,105, “Haptic Feedback for Touchpads and Other Touch Controls”; and patent number 8,638,301, “Systems and Methods for Transmitting Haptic Messages.”

In a statement released last year, Immersion VEO Victor Viegas said that his company was “disappointed that Fitbit rejected our numerous attempts to negotiate a reasonable license for Fitbit’s products, but it is imperative that we protect our intellectual property both within the US and through the distribution chain in China.”

Responding to MobiHealthNews in an email, a Fitbit spokesperson said at the time that the company believed Immersion’s suit to have “no merit.”

Fitbit is no stranger to lawsuits, especially when it comes to patent cases. The company spent a number of years embroiled in a legal conflict with Jawbone, which just last month seemed to rise from the grave following news that six former Fitbit and Jawbone employees had been indicted by a federal grand jury for theft of trade secrets. The company had also been handling cases with Valencell over patents related to heart rate tracking, which were still ongoing as of Jan. 11. Aside from these patent litigations, Fitbit has also faced class action suits alleging dangerous inaccuracy of both its heart rate and sleep tracking capabilities. 


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