Wearable technology company Sarvint Technologies has filed complaints against multiple major apparel companies for patent infringement of its “Smart Shirt” technology. The lawsuits were filed in the United States District Court, for the Northern District of Georgia against Athos Works, Inc. and MAD Apparel, Inc. (“Athos”), Carre Technologies, Inc. (Hexoskin), OMsignal, Inc., Ralph Lauren Corporation (NYSE: RL), Sensoria, Inc., Textronics, Inc., Adidas North America, Inc., and Victoria’s Secret Stores, LLC claiming infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,381,482, titled “Fabric or Garment with Integrated Flexible Information Infrastructure,” and U.S. Patent No. 6,970,731, titled “A Novel Fabric-Based Sensor for Monitoring Vital Signs.” Sarvint feels strongly that it is the creator of the “Smart Shirt” space, and its patented technology is being misappropriated by these organizations. The lawsuit seeks a judgment for infringement and requests a preliminary and permanent injunction against the infringing companies.
“Intellectual property is one of a technology company’s most important and valuable assets,” said Palaniswamy Rajan, also a Sarvint co-founder. “Sarvint does not favor litigation, but we recognize that it is our duty to protect the company’s intellectual property any time someone misappropriates it. We want these companies to discontinue business activities that infringe on our intellectual property.”
In April 2014, Georgia Tech Research Corporation awarded Sarvint an exclusive license to the ‘482 and ‘731 patents, including the right to enforce the patents against infringers. Sarvint’s intelligent Smart Shirt garment is based on the world’s first Wearable Motherboard™ invented at Georgia Tech by a team of researchers, including Sundaresan Jayaraman, Ph.D., and Sungmee Park, both of whom are Sarvint co-founders. The company’s Smart Shirt uses specialty fibers to measure vital signs such as heart rate, temperature, respiration rate and other health metrics that can be monitored by a smartphone. Sarvint’s intelligent Smart Shirt garment will be commercially available spring 2015.
Jayaraman and Park’s invention as described by the ‘482 and ‘731 patents was featured in a special issue of LIFE Magazine, titled “Medical Miracles for the New Millennium” (Fall 1998), and was named in it as “One of the 21 Breakthroughs that Could Change Your Life in the 21st Century.” In November 2001, TIME Magazine named their Smart Shirt as one of the “Best Inventions of the Year.” In July 2003, Newsweek Magazine featured it as one of the “10 Inventions That Will Change the World.” The first Smart Shirt is currently housed at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. In May 2006, Dr. Jayaraman was named a First Prize Winner (out of 4,200 entries) in the Modern Marvels Invent Now Challenge conducted by The History Channel, The National Inventors Hall of Fame and TIME Magazine. In 2007, the Smart Shirt was featured on a program titled, “2057: The Body” on the Discovery Channel.
Capitalizing off the potential profits of the growing smart apparel market, several companies identified in the lawsuit have all launched versions of their own “smart shirt”. During the U.S. Open in 2014, Ralph Lauren unveiled their new nylon”Polo Tech” shirt featuring sensors interwoven in the shirt that tracks vital signs.