It’s fitness gadget maker against fitness gadget maker. In February 2012, BodyMedia, maker of the FIT armbands that promote weight loss and health, filed a patent infringement civil action against competing fitness gadget maker Basis. On Monday of this week, three months after the suit was filed in court, BodyMedia served the lawsuit to Basis. Thursday, Basis countered back, telling BodyMedia that its lawsuit claims are invalid.
Basis filed an Answer and Counterclaims with the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, stating that BodyMedia’s claims of patent infringement are invalid.
“We believe these allegations are baseless,” said Jef Holove, chief of Basis, in an interview with VentureBeat. “One, we are not infringing [on BodyMedia's patents] and we haven’t even launched a product yet that would show we have infringed on anything. Second, there is a plethora of prior art for BodyMedia’s patents. From a larger point of view [the lawsuit] appears to be a tactic to hinder our launch.”
Holove argues that BodyMedia’s patents are invalid because of prior art for fitness gadgets that promote health and weight loss. Prior art refers to ideas and information that were public before a patent was obtained. The company also says that now that these patents have been brought to light, it intends to prove they were invalid to begin with.
Basis provided some context for why it feels BodyMedia’s lawsuit is inappropriate, and some of the reasons are a bit odd. It says that BodyMedia noticed the positive attention Basis was attracting at CES and asserts that BodyMedia filed the suit just to release a press release that the company had filed a lawsuit.
BodyMedia, which has been around since 1999, holds 17 patents for body sensing technology. In the patent infringement filing from February, BodyMedia contended that Basis violated six patents. One patent is for an armband to be worn on the upper arm that can detect health information with an accelerometer and a heat flux sensor. The other patents named in the filing related to sensors used in a health tracking device.
BodyMedia has a line of fitness armbands, under the name FIT, which track movement, skin temperature, sweat, and heat dissipation to give an overall picture of your health and daily fitness levels. The company recently closed a $12 million funding round.
Basis is in the process of developing a fitness wrist band with an accelerometer to track movement and sensors to track heart rate, temperature, and sweat levels. The company debuted its device at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year. It has raised $9 million in funding from Norwest Venture Partners and DCM.
VentureBeat has reached out to BodyMedia for comment and will update the post when we get a response. The full filing is below.