Adidas sued Baltimore-based Under Armour this week for infringing several wearable tech patents for its Armour39 chest straps and watches and MapMyFitness app. Adidas says Under Armour infringes ten of its patents registered between 2007 and 2013, used in Adidas’ miCoach to monitor heart rate and calories burned.
Sportswear brands are gearing up investments in wearable tech, which is set to become a $50 billion market in the next five years. Leader in the field Nike has an expansive NikeFuel ecosystem and funds a startup accelerator to develop features for it. Adidas is the first Sportswear brand to design a smartwatch, called Smart Run, in addition to its miCoach line. Under Armour has also made strides, introducing a new metric in its mobile app that measures the intensity of a workout.
Wearable tech is extremely valuable to sportswear brands because it develops a loyal consumer base and encourages consumers to buy compatible products. But as wearable tech advances and becomes accessible to more brands, loyalty could be harder to win. In that case, the Adidas vs. Under Armour could be just a preview of what is about to come: a lawsuits frenzy similar to the smartphone patent wars.