Documents filed in the US District Court for the District of Delaware on October 3 show that Wahoo Fitness LLC believes that three patents related to its smart trainers have been infringed upon by Zwift. These are:
US 10,933,290 B2 – “Bicycle Trainer”
US 11,090,542 B2 – “System and Method for Controlling a Bicycle Trainer” and
US 10,046,222 B2 – “System and Method for Controlling a Bicycle Trainer.”
Wahoo have also filed a lawsuit against JetBlack Cycling Pty Ltd, the manufacturing partner for the Zwift Hub Smart Trainer. The trainer was launched last month, an affordable, user-friendly direct-drive unit.
JetBlack also markets a nearly identical model, the Volt, under its own name for the same price, according to Bicycle Retailer. The Volt has been available for several years, but JetBlack have only just been sued by Wahoo, in the aftermath of the Zwift Hub becoming available.
In the court documents, Wahoo says: "It is not an exaggeration to say that, through the KICKR family, and related products, Wahoo created a revolution across the cycling industry and continues to drive demand into global bike shops during the usually quiet winter season by supporting retailers across the world with best in class displays and desirable products throughout the KICKR ecosystem."
"Designing and manufacturing technology products is complex and expensive," it continues. "Many companies have built successful Smart Trainer businesses without cutting corners and without violating patents. Wahoo encourages new entrants to indoor cycling to help drive innovation and growth.
"However, allowing cheap, copycat products to sell illegally in the marketplace discourages investment from legitimate companies leading to stagnating innovation and lower product quality."
The documents lay out how Wahoo think that Zwift and JetBlack have infringed on its patents, including photos of disassembled Zwift Hub Trainers.
The filing alleges: "The Hub is identical, in all material respects, to the KICKR CORE, one of Wahoo’s innovative bicycle trainers. By copying the KICKR CORE, Zwift has infringed three of Wahoo’s patents. By marketing a copy of Wahoo’s patent-protected device, Zwift has taken a shortcut that allows it to reap the benefit of Wahoo’s innovations, but without investing the time and money necessary to create Wahoo’s innovations.
"As a result, Wahoo is forced to file this action to stop Zwift’s infringement and to ensure Wahoo’s ability to continue its strong history of innovation."
CyclingTips reported that an internal email at Wahoo alleges that the Volt and the Hub are “simply a copycat product of Wahoo’s KICKR CORE trainer … we would not have taken this action if we did not believe the patent violations were blatant and clear.”
Wahoo is asking the court for jury trial and asking for a preliminary injunction against JetBlack and Zwift preventing them from selling its trainers in the U.S, they have until 24 October to respond.
Wahoo, JetBlack and Zwift have all been contacted for comment by Cycling Weekly.
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