Although Adidas and Nike have been in and out of court several times over the years, Adidas has taken it to a new level. On Friday, the company submitted his first federal lawsuit against Nike, alleging that its rival has infringed nine of its patents related to smartphone apps and adjustable shoe technology.
Initially reported by Reuters and Complex, the lawsuit concerns a number of Nike digital products. Adidas claims that the Nike Run Club, Training Club and SNKRS apps infringe its patents related to features such as audio feedback during workouts, GPS tracking, training plans, integration with third-party accessories such as heart rate monitors, and the ability to reserve and limited edition sneakers. These are basic features of several running and fitness tracking apps, and this isn’t the first time Adidas has taken it to court. In 2014, Adidas sued Under Armor to be over Map My Fitness App† The two companies finally settledwhereby Under Armor agrees to pay Adidas a license fee.
The company also specifically mentioned its Confirmed app† Adidas introduced the app in 2015, billing it as a way to give customers insider access to its brands and exclusive sneaker releases. Nikes SNKRS App was launched shortly after and basically does the same for Nike’s sneakers.
Adidas also cited Nike’s adjustable Adapt sneakers as an infringement of the Adidas_1. The Adidas_1 was a running shoe with a motor in the sole and a heel sensor adjust the “stiffness” of the shoe live. Meanwhile, Nike’s Adapt technology got a lot of buzz because it reminded consumers of the self-lacing sneakers in the classic sci-fi movie. Back to the future† However, the purpose of the two shoes is arguably different. The Adidas_1 were intended as an all-in-one shoe for runners, while Nike’s various iterations on its Adapt sneakers were more about accessibility and comfort.
Ultimately, Adidas is seeking damages from Nike and a court order preventing Nike from “directly or indirectly infringing one or more” of the patents involved. Should Adidas win, it could have a potentially far-reaching impact on fitness tracking apps. As mentioned, features like GPS route tracking mentioned in Adidas’ suit are almost ubiquitous in apps like Strava and Runkeeper, as well as companion apps for several fitness trackers like Garmin and Polar.