Violate iRobot Corporation (IRBT)’s Patents? Nein!

Page 1 of 2

On Monday, iRobot Corporation (NASDAQ:IRBT) unveiled a patent infringement lawsuit in a German court against five international companies, including Pardus, Emparanza y Galdos Internacional, Elektrogerate Solac Vertrieb, Electrodomesticos Solac, and Celaya.

More specifically, the lawsuit claims the German robotic vacuum Solac Ecogenic AA3400 violates five of iRobot Corporation (NASDAQ:IRBT)’s European patents for technology created for its own Roomba robotic vacuums, including the Roomba’s unique ability to autonomously navigate through rooms and its predetermined cleaning schedule functionality.

So what’s an investor to think?

For reference — and with the caveat this is by no means a scientific comparison with which any official patent decisions can be made — let’s look at the two vacuums side by side.

Image sources: iRobot.com, Solac.com.

That’s the iRobot Corporation (NASDAQ:IRBT) 650 on the left, and the Solac Ecogenic AA3400 on the right. Color me intrigued, but don’t those two devices look just a little too similar for comfort?

Worse yet, as the proud owner of my very own Roomba 650, when I look at Solac’s product page for its robotic, vacuum I can see that nearly every bottom component also seems to unabashedly copy iRobot Corporation (NASDAQ:IRBT)’s hardware, complete with the side-spinning front brush, a distinct pivoting front wheel, cliff sensors, self-adjusting back wheels, and the design of the primary dual brushes.

In fact, apart from the shape and placement of the buttons on the two products, I’d venture to say they’re virtually identical.

This isn’t the first time …

Curiously enough, this isn’t the first time iRobot Corporation (NASDAQ:IRBT) has had to defend its intellectual turf.

Back in 2007, iRobot won a similar lawsuit by proving that competitor Robotic FX — which was incidentally founded by a former iRobot employee — not only stole trade secrets and violated several of iRobot’s patents, but also destroyed evidence and violated fair trade practices while trying in vain to compete with iRobot’s popular defense-centric PackBots. In the end, Robotic FX ended up dissolving, while iRobot agreed to purchase “select residual assets” from the company.

As an aside, iRobot’s current case also seems strikingly reminiscent of the complaints filed in March by MAKO Surgical Corp. (NASDAQ:MAKO) against its own U.K.-based competitor, Stanmore Implants, alleging Stanmore’s Sculptor RGA violated several patents related to MAKO’s own RIO robots.

In the end, that particular complaint was resolved less than a month later after Stanmore agreed to withdraw from robotics, while MAKO Surgical Corp. (NASDAQ:MAKO) later solidified its place in robotic surgery by purchasing Stanmore’s robotic business assets and intellectual property for less than $1 million.

Foolish takeaway

As one of the earliest entrants into the robotic vacuum market, iRobot has sold more than 9 million home robots across the world to date.

Page 1 of 2
blog comments powered by Disqus
Insider Monkey Headlines
Insider Monkey Small Cap Strategy
Insider Monkey Small Cap Strategy

Insider Monkey beat the market by 44 percentage points in 21 months Learn how!

Lists

The Top 10 States With Fastest Internet Speeds

10 Best Places to Visit in USA in August

Top 10 Cities to Visit Before You Die

Top 10 Genetically Modified Food In the US

15 Highest Grossing Movies Opening Weekend

5 Best Poker Books For Beginners

10 Strategies Hedge Funds Use to Make Huge Returns

Top 10 Fast Food Franchises to Buy

10 Best Places to Visit in Canada

Best Summer Jobs for Teachers

10 Youngest Hedge Fund Billionaires

Top 10 One Hit Wonders of the 90s

Fastest Growing Cities In America

Top 10 U.S. Cities for Freelancers

Top 9 Most Popular Free iPhone Apps

Top 10 Least Expensive Private Business Schools in the US

Top 15 Most Expensive Countries in the World – 2014

Top Businesses to Invest In

Top 5 Things You Might Be Doing Wrong With Your Business

Top 5 Strategic Technology Trends in 2014

Top Rags to Riches Stories

Parenting Behavior That Promotes Future Leaders

Top 5 Mistakes Made by Small Businesses

Top 5 Most Common and Potentially Devastating Financial Blunders

Top 5 Highest Paying Jobs for Web Designers

Top 6 Most Respected Professions that Also Pay Well

Top 5 Pitfalls Investors Should Avoid

Top 6 Lawyers and Policy Makers Under 30

Top 6 New Year’s Resolutions for Entrepreneurs

Top 7 Locations to Check in on Facebook

Top 5 Mistakes made by Rookie eBay Sellers

Top 7 eBook Publishers in 2013

Top 6 Health Industry Trends in 2014

5 Lessons for Entrepreneurs from Seth Godin

Top 5 Success Tips from Jordan Belfort – the Wolf of Wall Street

Best Master’s in Finance Degree Programs

Top 6 Earning Celebrities Over 50

The most expensive sports to play

Top 7 Earning Celebrities Under 25

Best 7 Online Courses to Take: Free Finance MOOCs

Top 6 Bad Habits that Promote Failure

20 Most Valuable Soccer Teams in the World in 2013

12 Most Expensive Countries for Foreign Students

Top 30 Most Influential Women in the World

Top 20 Most Expensive New Year Eve Shows

Top 5 Best Vocational Careers

Top 10 Jobs for 2014 by Salary Gain (Predictions)

Top 5 Digital Trends for 2014

Top 6 Things You Can Do To Increase Your Productivity

Top 9 Trending Smartphones in 2013

Subscribe

Enter your email:

Delivered by FeedBurner

X

Thanks! An email with instructions is sent to !

Your email already exists in our database. Click here to go to your subscriptions

Insider Monkey returned 47.6% in its first year! Wondering How?

Download a complete edition of our newsletter for free!