Regulators Investigate Fitness Bands Amid Patent Violation Claims


After allegations of patent infringement by Koninklijke Philips and its North American unit, regulators with the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) said they will look into wearable monitoring devices with the inclusion of those made by Garmin and Fitbit, Reuters reported.

The investigation would also probe devices made by Maintek Computer, Inventec Appliances and Ingram Micro.

“We believe these claims are without merit and a result of Philips’ failure to succeed in the wearables market,” Fitbit said, according to the report.

It also noted it would strongly defend itself against all claims put forward in the complaint.

In the compliant, Philips and Philips North America, are asking for an import ban or tariffs and claim the other firms went against the patents of Phillips or otherwise misappropriated its intellectual property.

Ingram Micro, Inventec Appliances, Maintek and Garmin representatives could not be reached for a comment immediately, per the report. And, while the USITC agreed to start a probe, it said it “has not yet made any decision on the merits of the case” and would come to a determination “at the earliest practicable time.”

Wearable activity trackers, for their part, have become more popular with consumers aiming to monitor their physical activity as well as other health data. The news also comes as consumers are making resolutions for 2020.

In separate news, reports surfaced in early November that Google reached a definitive agreement to acquire Fitbit. Google was reportedly paying $7.35 per share in cash for Fitbit, valuing the company at approximately $2.1 billion, per news at the time.

The firm said it will work with the experts of Fitbit to make top artificial intelligence, software and hardware to help stimulate advancement in wearables that could benefit people around the globe. The acquisition could see Google’s parent company, Alphabet, making a larger play to expand into the health and fitness space.