I guess it is the sign of a growing industry, the point at which you have your first major patent suit. Start-up company Sarvint Technologies is alleging that many companies making monitoring garments are infringing U.S. Patents No. 6,381,482 and No. 6,970,731; patents that they have exclusive rights to, via a license agreement with Georgia Tech Research. The companies listed are: Athos Works, Inc., MAD Apparel, Inc. (“Athos”), Carre Technologies, Inc. (Hexoskin), OMsignal, Ralph Lauren, Sensoria, Textronics, Adidas North America Inc., and Victoria’s Secret Stores. These companies all make tops or bras that measure heart-rate and in some cases other physiological signs.
We’re not sure it is a milestone to celebrate, though it is the sort of IPR shake out that all nascent industries go through, and it is interesting that Sarvint are confident that this industry will have sufficient volumes to warrant the inevitable pain that this course of action will involve. Of course, it would be great if the US patent system could quickly determine the validity of the infringements and, if valid, settle on a reasonable license fee. However, our guess is that this will take years to resolve, which is not helpful to all parties and spreads uncertainty over an industry that is only just starting to gain momentum.
Sarvint themselves also announced that this Spring they will have their own monitoring garment for: heart-rate, respiration, temperature and other, as yet, unspecified vital signs. Interestingly, one of the companies co-founders is Dr. Sundaresan Jayaraman, who did a lot of early work on smart shirts around 2000.
Source: Original press release