Wahoo is suing Zwift for patent infringement

Wahoo believes that Zwift's first smart trainer is a "blatant and clear" violation of its patents.

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Hot on the heels of Zwift launching its debut indoor trainer, Wahoo is suing Zwift for infringement of multiple US patents. 

Court 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, Inc, namely:

  • 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 simultaneously filed a lawsuit against JetBlack Cycling Pty Ltd, the manufacturing partner for the Zwift Hub Smart Trainer. The Hub was launched by Zwift in early September, offering a low-cost, easy set-up entry to the market for the smart-trainer curious. 

Wahoo, which has been an innovator in the smart-trainer space for as long as it’s existed, apparently saw Zwift’s move into hardware as a direct threat, galvanising it into legal action. For evidence that it’s really about Zwift, look no further than the fact that JetBlack’s Volt trainer – which the Hub is a rebranded version of – has been available since late 2020, unchallenged by Wahoo and its legal team.

An internal Wahoo communication – viewed by CyclingTips – shows that Wahoo believes that the Volt and 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.” 

“Filing a patent lawsuit to protect our IP is not an easy decision because we believe that competition in the category is a good thing that leads to innovation and helps fuel overall category growth,” the email continues. “That being said, designing and manufacturing technology products is complex and expensive.  Allowing copycat products to sell illegally in the market at deeply discounted prices discourages legitimate operators from investing, leading to stagnant innovation and pressuring product quality.  IP law exists to encourage innovation and to protect innovative companies like Wahoo from having their hard work ripped-off by companies that bypass the process of designing their own product.  In our opinion, the market situation today represents exactly what the IP laws are designed to protect against.”

Wahoo’s position, the internal communication reads, is not to work against Zwift – ”our intent is to continue to work together to better serve our joint customers and grow the category”, despite the legal dispute. “We do not want to stop Zwift or other companies from entering the Trainer category. We simply want them to play by the same rules as the other companies that compete in the category.”

Wahoo is asking for a jury trial and a preliminary injunction against JetBlack and Zwift, which would prevent them from selling trainers in the USA.

Zwift has until October 24 to respond.

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