Sun, Feb 04, 2007 - Page 11 News List

Apple, Nike sued over iPod shoe patent

LEGAL ACTION PhatRat Technology is taking the two titans to court in Denver with a claim that they are using its patented biometric innovations without permission


Apple Inc and Nike Inc were sued by a Colorado company accusing them of infringing a patent covering shoes that collect data on the wearer's activity in their Nike+iPod Sport Kit.

PhatRat Technology LLC, a maker of wireless devices that gauge a wearer's performance, said in a complaint on Thursday in Denver federal court that Apple and Nike are using its patented innovations without permission.

PhatRat asked for cash compensation and a court order blocking the use.

"PhatRat has been damaged by the infringing acts of Apple and Nike, and will continue to be damaged unless" they are stopped by the court, closely held PhatRat said.

Nike, the world's largest athletic-shoe company, and Apple, dominant in the digital music-player market, started selling the Nike+iPod Sport Kit in July.

A sensor and receiver let the shoes communicate with an iPod over a radio frequency so runners can learn their speed, such as 25km an hour, and pace, such as two minutes per kilometer. It costs US$29 and requires a special Nike shoe and an iPod Nano.

PhatRat, based in Niwot, Colorado, makes products such as the airRat, a device for measuring sports performance while snowboarding, skiing or riding a BMX bicycle, the company said on its Web site. The patent at issue is entitled "shoes employing monitoring devices, and associated methods."

"Nike is aware of the complaint and is reviewing the allegations alongside our own intellectual property rights," said Vada Manager, a spokesman for Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike.

PhatRat sued Apple in the same court in October, claiming the computer company infringed four patents in their Nike+iPod Sports Kit and iPod products.

On the other hand, Cisco Systems Inc and Apple declared a temporary truce on Friday in the legal battle over the iPhone trademark to give themselves until Feb. 15 to resolve the matter outside of court.

The Silicon Valley companies pushed back Apple's deadline for filing a response to the suit in US federal court in Northern California.

"Apple and Cisco have agreed to extend the time for Apple to respond to the lawsuit to allow for discussions between the companies with the aim of reaching agreement on trademark rights and interoperability," a joint statement read.

Cisco sued Apple last month after the maker of iPod MP3 players and Macintosh computers grandly launched an iPhone device with camera, digital music player and mobile telephone capabilities.

Cisco claimed it had obtained the trademark in 2000 after acquiring Infogear, which owned the iPhone name and had been selling products bearing that name for "several years."

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