Apple, Nike face Patent lawsuit over iPod Accessories

Apple and Nike’s Nike + iPod is the target of a lawsuit alleging the companies licensed invalid patents for the their exercising tracking equipment. The suit was filed by Erik Cherdak, a lawyer and inventor who claims the companies licensed patents from PhatRat, and that PhatRat misled to patent office. Instead, he claimed, Apple and Nike should’ve licensed the technology from him.

The patents Apple and Nike are relying on, 5,960,380 and 5,636,146, are the target of Mr. Cherdak’s lawsuit, according to Patently Apple. He alleged that PhatRat lied to the USPTO to get its patents granted and that those compete directly with his 5,452,269 and 5,343,445 patents.

Cherdak: Apple licensed invalid patentsCherdak: Apple licensed invalid patents

The lawsuit also names PhatRat and Curtis Vock, a partner at the Lathrop & Gage lawfirm. Both are listed on PhatRat’s patents, and Mr. Cherdak claims Apple and Nike should’ve known the company’s patents were invalid.

The PhatRat patents describe a system where sensors, such as GPS or an accelerometer, are used to track activity and exercise routes, which is exactly what Nike + iPod does.

Mr. Cherdak stated in his filing,

Vock saw the Plaintiff’s Cherdak’s patents as huge obstacles in pursuit of his unfair and anticompetitive trade practices. Instead of attempting to purchase the rights from Cherdak, Vock chose instead to materially misrepresent the metes and bounds of the Cherdak patents to the USPTO and the American People. Defendants’ use of numerous invalid patents to extract revenue from parties in the market (and exclude others from that market) is clear evidence of the predatory practices in the market.

Before Mr. Cherdak can win his case against Apple and Nike, however, he’ll have to convince the court that the PhatRat patents are invalid. Assuming he does, his action for Declaratory Relief will be his tool to go after the two companies.

Apple’s involvement with PhatRat dates back to 2006 when the company accused the iPod maker of infringing on its patents with the Nike + iPod product line. Apple later licensed the PhatRat patents, ultimately leading to Mr. Cherdak’s lawsuit.

Mr. Cherdak filed his lawsuit in District Court in Eastern Virginia. Previously, he has filed lawsuits against the likes of Walmart, Nordstrom, Payless, and Kmart.

Apple has not commented on Mr. Cherdak’s lawsuit.