iFIT v. Peloton: Could Patent Drafting Software Have Altered the Outcome of an IP Dispute?
After a year and a half of looking at patent prosecution statistics, we thought it might be interesting to pivot to litigations. Are there, we wondered, cases where prior use of patent drafting software might have caused a litigation to have ended differently? It didn’t take us too long to find an interesting one.
In 2020 and 2021, Peloton Interactive, known for its stationary exercise bikes, sued iFIT in the Delaware federal court for patent infringement related to its leaderboard technology. iFIT is the maker of NordicTrack and was previously known as Icon Health and Fitness. This garnered media attention because the sale of in-home exercise equipment had soared during pandemic lockdowns as people looked to find a way to exercise without leaving their homes. Likewise, iFIT filed counter-complaints in 2021 and 2022 in the Delaware court and the ITC, alleging that Peloton’s bike product infringed a patent allowing users to alternate between biking and weightlifting.
Both parties settled all pending litigation in May of 2022, in that “iFIT has agreed to remove certain on-demand leaderboard technology from its products, and Peloton has agreed to license certain iFIT patents relating to remote control technology.”
There were over 20 patents-in-suit in all the litigation cases between the two parties. Among those, two patents caught our attention because they were used in a suit not only against Peloton but also in iFIT’s 2019 litigation against Flywheel and Echelon. From their usage in multiple cases, one can assume that these patents were regarded highly by iFIT. For this reason, we decided to take a deeper look at these two patents (6,601,016 and 7,556,590) and see how the court construed some of the disputed terms.
After a Markman hearing before US District Judge Richard Andrews, many disputed terms in the two patents were resolved by agreement of the parties or at the hearing. But four remaining terms had to be construed by the court in its Markman ruling in September 2021, roughly 7 months prior to the overall settlement.
Particularly, the disputed terms were: (1) “extensible mark-up language” and (2) “mark-up language” mentioned in the ‘016 claims; (3) “translator device(s)” and (4) “means for comparing” mentioned in the ‘590 claims. Judge Andrews dug into each term and decided with Peloton for three terms and split in the middle for one term, ultimately giving Peloton a favorable construction decision. In short, the parties had to battle over the terms because the terms were not supported sufficiently in the specification. Was this a drafting error? Could have this been avoided? Without knowing the answers to the questions, we turned our heads to our Rowan Patents drafting software.
Rowan Patents flagged two of the four terms at issue, “mark-up language” and “means for comparing” for lack of written description in the specifications and cautioned the claims involving the third term, “translator device(s).”
Litigation is certainly a costly and time-consuming way to find out whether the terms in your patents have been written sufficiently and in the ways you intended. In the battle against their biggest rival, Peloton, iFIT experienced a tough lesson. They may have wished for a second chance to amend the shortcomings of the terms in their patents if they could have gone back to the patent drafting or preparation stage.
Do the terms in your patents deserve the attention that patent drafting software like Rowan Patents can provide? Do you want to avoid an unfavorable ruling based on the quality of the terms in your applications? If you would like to explore whether Rowan Patents can assist you, please contact us.