Asics Wants Adidas Suit Over Fitness Tracking Tech Nixed

The Japanese athletic company said the ideas behind a string of Adidas patents are too abstract for protection.

Adidas has a fight on its hands with Asics, which isn’t rolling over to allegations that its fitness app is infringing on a string of tech patents.

Asics on Wednesday urged a Delaware federal court to dismiss a lawsuit launched in March by Adidas, claiming 10 of its patents covering technology for wearable exercise and fitness-tracking devices is being used as part of the My Asics mobile application, which offers tracking and training for runners.

While Asics didn’t deny anything about the function of its app, it cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s precedential decision in Alice Corp. vs. CLS Bank in arguing the function of the technology is too abstract and generic to maintain a “patent-eligible invention.”

The Alice ruling came down in 2014 and essentially put the kibosh on any patents that lay claim to an abstract idea, like general information and analysis, simply because they’re displayed on a computer.

Asics said the Adidas patents “fall squarely within the abstract-idea category,” because they cover the results of the collection and analysis of user information, not an inventive concept.

Moreover, Asics cited rulings at the Federal Circuit, the only appellate court that overhears patent case appeals, in arguing the tracking of fitness activity is a process that can be performed mentally, leaving the asserted patents invalid.

“Methods which can be performed entirely in the human mind are unpatentable not because there is anything wrong with claiming mental method steps as part of a process containing non-mental steps, but rather because computational methods which can be performed entirely in the human mind are the types of methods that embody the ‘basic tools of scientific and technological work’ that are free to all men and reserved exclusively to none,” Asics said, quoting a 2011 Federal Circuit ruling.

Given a general lack of patentability, Asics asked the court to dismiss Adidias’ suit outright.

An Adidas representative could not be reached for comment.

When the German athleticwear giant initially sued Asics, it claimed Asics knew or should have known its app infringed on Adidas technology, namely because Under Armour last year settled litigation over a number of the same patents related to wearable tech.

Adidas pointed to elements of the My Asics app, like a “live track” allowing users to GPS-stream their movements, “audio coaching” and even its use of wireless technology to receive communications as un-permitted use of the technology covered in its patents.

Expanding on the wireless communication claim, Adidas said features of the Asics app, like its ability to “transmit fitness information, send predetermined routes to mobile devices and provide training plans, goals and prescribed workouts” are all elements that fall under Adidas’ patents.

Other elements of the app like rankings, fitness reports and activity logs are also allegedly covered by the Adidas patents, according to the complaint.

Adidas is seeking a permanent injunction on the Asics app and prohibiting the company from further use of the technology in the patents, along with unspecified damages.