Fitbit has had a tough year, with the reported struggles over its smartwatch project and news that it's losing ground to rivals in the sales department. That year is about to get a little bit worse, as Immersion has decided to hit Fitbit with a lawsuit over haptic feedback use.
Immersion, a developer and licensor in haptic technology, is hitting Fitbit with legal complaints in both the US and China, alleging that the Fitbit Blaze, Flex, Flex 2, Alta, Alta HR, Charge, Charge 2, Charge HR and Surge infringe Immersion's haptic feedback patents.
Essential reading: The Fitbit smartwatch investigation
Worse for Fitbit, Immersion CEO Victor Viegas claims the company was trying to negotiate licenses with Fitbit so that it could avoid legal action. "We are disappointed that Fitbit rejected our numerous attempts to negotiate a reasonable license for Fitbit's products, but it is imperative that we protect our intellectual property both within the U.S. and through the distribution chain in China."
The legal complaints include requesting orders that Fitbit and its manufacturers immediately - and permanently - stop making, using or selling infringing Fitbit devices, which is pretty much most of them. Specifically, the patents Fitbit alleging infringed involve using haptic feedback based on conditions, for touch controls and actually transmitting the haptic feedback itself.
Fitbit, of course, makes use of haptic technology in many of its devices - from notifications to guiding you through a breathing exercise. The company will no doubt fight back. For its part, Immersion tends to sue anyone that puts haptic feedback in its devices, including Apple, Sony and Motorola.
Fitbit tells Wareable in a statement that Immersion's lawsuit has "no merit," pointing out that it has 450 patents and patent applications. "As the pioneer and leading global wearables brand, Fitbit has developed and delivered innovative product offerings to empower its more than 50 million registered users to lead healthier, more active lives."