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Touch Feedback Scandal Kills Fitbit Smartwatch Hype

Well, Fitbit Inc (NYSE:FIT) stole technology and used it as its own. This is according to several reports that cite a lawsuit against the wearable gadget maker. The company is being sued by Immersion, an organization making headway in the realm of touch feedback. Claims state that existing Fitbit products use technology which in fact belongs to Immersion. By the looks of things, both companies will be moving headstrong into a hot patent dispute battle.

Immersion wants Fitbit to immediately stop selling all product which use its designs. That’s not likely to happen though. Speculation from analyst David Curry suggests that most Fitbit devices would need to be discontinued in this case. Fitbit incorporates touch feedback in every one of its products. Its wrist gadgets in particular use haptics for alarms, notifications, cues for breathing exercises and much more.

Immersion is among the best companies which develop, innovate and license touch feedback technology. Viegas reports that his repeatedly company makes breakthroughs in the touch feedback technology and has been doing so for nearly 25 years. The company is now taking on Fitbit overs allegedly stolen patents.

Victor Viegas is the Chief Executive Officer at Immersion. He commented on his company’s lawsuit and expressed disappointment in Fitbit at its failure to comply with requests. Viegas claims that Immersion has made several attempts to get Fitbit to pay “reasonable license” fees for its products. However, the fitness gadget company refuses to admit any guilt of infringement.

Immersion will not take this lightly, says Viegas. The company believes it is important to secure its intellectual property. Viegas is not only concerned about designs leaking in the U.S. though. Chinese-based distribution channels also threaten the integrity of Immersion designs.

“Our valuable patents in the U.S. and China help us protect our investment in research and development in this exciting field,” Viegas reports. “We are disappointed that Fitbit rejected our numerous attempts to negotiate a reasonable license for Fitbit’s products… It is imperative that we protect our intellectual property both within the U.S. and through the distribution chain in China.”

The timing of this lawsuit is awful. Fitbit Inc (NYSE:FIT) has enough of its plate at the moment. The company is in a constant battle to hold onto its relevance in the wearable gadget market. Earlier this year, it was bumped two places down from the number one wearables brand worldwide. Apple Inc and its popular digital watch hold first place now. All the way in the east, Chinese tech giant Xiaomi holds the throne. The company holds second place in the wearables market.

Patent touch feedback scandals with Immersion

Interestingly enough, Immersion has also gone toe-to-toe with other tech majors over allegedly infringed patents. The touch feedback company sued Apple last year over the iPhone’s 3D Touch feature. Other companies had similar disputes with Immersion too. Sony and Motorola have had to fend off Immersion over touch feedback technology as well.

Immersion bears the label of a patent hoarder in some circles. It attacks companies for anything which resembles good touch feedback. Looks like Fitbit Inc (NYSE:FIT) is its latest victim.

The wearable device maker is currently working on a smartwatch of its own. Fitbit seeks to take on the Apple Watch and other giants in the wearable gadget space. Whether this will boost its sales and reputation is yet to show.

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Mvusi Ngubane

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