Blast Motion and Zepp Settle Patent Infringement Litigation
Blast Motion and Zepp Labs, the makers of swing-tracking technology, have settled a patent lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California that puts Blast Motion in control of the baseball market.
The court ruled in Blast Motion's favor and issued an injunction against Zepp Labs from selling its baseball and softball sensors in the U.S., a rule that will take hold in six months.
The two parties also entered into a Settlement and License Agreement that will permit the parties to continue to distribute their respective products--whether golf, tennis or otherwise--in the U.S., with the exception of the Zepp baseball and softball products. Remaining terms of the agreement between Blast Motion and Zepp remain confidential.
"Here at Blast, we are pleased with the outcome and will continue to market and sell our products," says Mike Woods, vice president of business development and strategic partnerships. "It's business as usual."
Blast Motion expects an announcement geared toward Zepp baseball customers in the near future.
"We are very happy with the outcome and the injunction against Zepp in both baseball and softball in the United States," Woods says. "Blast Motion was an early entrant into our markets and invested heavily in innovating new technology and building an extensive IP portfolio. We welcome fair competition, but are committed to ensuring our customers and investors can leverage all of the benefits of our technology."
Blast's baseball "hitting solution," a .3-ounce sensor attached to the end of the bat, uses an algorithm to track swing data and display the results via software. The most recent release of the Blast product--also the official bat sensor of Major League Baseball--has expanded its baseline metrics beyond swing speed, time to contact, swing direction and power to include vertical bat angle, body rotation scores and swing plane data, a new metric for the industry that Blast baseball manager Justin Goltz says came from dissecting information from top-level players. The upgrade also includes Blast Vision, which allows players to make adjustments to their swing and see real-time results and a "cause and effect" view of their swing.
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The Blast sensor, on the market for over two years with products for baseball, softball and golf, has taken its latest iteration after mining data from the company’s close relationship with professional teams, coaches and players, especially in the minor leagues. But the sensor has seen use everywhere from MLB--the Astros have come on board in a big way--down through college and high school teams to the growing youth demographic.
Zepp Labs says they will continue to sell their sensor products--except baseball and softball in the U.S. after June 17--and continue to support their entire suite of iOS and Android mobile applications. In the "mutually agreed resolution" to the dispute that found both companies infringed on patents, Zepp plans to continue supporting all baseball and softball products and introduce new app features for the sports for Apple Watch and other wearable devices in the future.
Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Baseball America. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.