Fitbit faces lawsuits over haptic feedback in the U.S. and China

Developer and licensor of touch feedback technology Immersion aims to stop manufacturing and selling of Fitbit devices in the U.S. and China.

Fitbit faces lawsuits over haptic feedback in the U.S. and China

Fitbit knows for better times; you know when it didn't have to compete with Apple, Google and Samsung. Like that's not enough — after Jawbone — the company is facing another lawsuit, this time from Immersion, which is suing Fitbit in China and the US for allegedly violating three patents for haptic feedback. Supposedly, Fitbit devices ranging from the original Flex to the Blaze all borrow Immersion's approach to vibrating a device in response to commands and for alerts. What's more, the suit claims that Fitbit rebuffed "numerous attempts" to strike a licensing deal and this is considered a last resort.

"Since 1993, Immersion has been a leading innovator in the field of haptic technology, leveraging our culture of innovation and market-leading haptic know-how," Victor Viegas, Immersion's CEO, said in a statement. "Our valuable patents in the U.S. and China help us protect our longstanding investment in research and development in this exciting field. We are 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 U.S. and through the distribution chain in China."

Immersion's press release doesn't share any numbers, though considering the wide use of the technology in Fitbit's products, we may be looking at a multi-million dollar damage request. Meanwhile, Immersion is seeking orders 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 U.S. and China.

On the other hand, we have Fitbit saying that the suit has no merit. In a reply to Engadget the company's spokesperson said: "Since its inception, Fitbit has amassed more than 450 issued patents and patent applications. As the pioneer and leading global wearables brand, Fitbit has developed and delivered innovative product offerings to empower its more than 50 million registered users to lead healthier, more active lives."

We'll be hearing more about this, so stay tuned…

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