updated 07:15 pm EST, Wed December 7, 2011
Suit claims earlier patents on Nike, iPod tech
An unusual lawsuit filed earlier this week hoped to upturn another lawsuit over Nike+iPod technology. Maryland resident Erik Cherdak claimed to have had two patents relating to an "athletic shoe with timing device" that predate the patents accessory maker PhatRat was using to sue, and later license out to, Apple and Nike. He hoped to have the two PhatRat patents invalidated on top of forcing Apple and Nike to pay licensing fees for iPhones, iPods, and shoes designed to use the Nike+ system, all under the threat of a possible ban.
Cherdak went so far as to level complaints against the key developer of the disputed patents, attorney Curtis Vock, for making "false and misleading statements" that let his own patents get cleared while stalling Cherdak's own. Apple and Nike should have known Vock and PhatRat were being dishonest about the legitimacy of the patents, Cherdak said.
Without a proper license, he argued, he couldn't team with companies to make equipment like what Apple and Nike were developing, while PhatRat was unfairly profiting off of not just Apple and Nike but Fitsense, Garmin, Polar, and Timex, all of whom were cast as forced to pay royalties on patents that weren't valid. The block allegedly violated both the Clayton and Sherman Antitrust Acts.
None of the involved companies has commented so far.
Fights often erupt over the timing of a patent involved in a case, but they typically focus on prior art that might rule out the patent, not instances of conflicting patents themselves. An outright loss in the case for Cherdak would still be a form of loss for Apple and Nike, since either would still have to pay licensing fees that themselves came as the result of a lawsuit and a settlement.