A small and little-known Atlanta company is suing leaders in the technology clothing business for patent infringement, claiming that those companies have fallen afoul of exclusive licenses granted by Georgia Tech.
Sarvint on Friday filed suit in U.S. District Court in Atlanta against Adidas North America, Victoria’s Secret Stores, Ralph Lauren Corporation, Athos Works and MAD Apparel, Carre Technologies (Hexoskin), OMSignal, Sensoria, and Textronics. The suit asks for a judgement for infringement and injunctions prohibiting the sale of infringing products. Sarvint says it will begin selling its own Smart Shirt, among other products, starting this spring.
Sarvint was founded in January 2014 and is built around what they call the Wearable Motherboard, sensor and wire-infused clothing. The company is headed by Palaniswamy Rajan, described in his LinkedIn profile as a “serial entrepreneur and investor.” He told WTI in an interview that Sarvint has fewer than 10 employees; numbered among them are Sundaresan Jayaraman and Sungmee Park. Jayaraman is currently a professor at the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Buisness and the Georgia Tech Wearable computer Center. Park was a post-doc at Scheller. Both their names are on the patents in question. The company is funded, Rajan told us, by friends and family, though he implied that he was currently out raising funds.
The company has what it characterizes as an exclusive license to U.S. Patents 6,381,482 and 6,970,731, issued to Georgia Tech, which has long been a center of research on smart fabrics and wearable technology. The former was issued in 2002 covering “Fabric or garment with integrated flexible information infrastructure”, and here’s the abstract:
A fabric, in the form of a woven or knitted fabric or garment, including a flexible information infrastructure integrated within the fabric for collecting, processing, transmitting and receiving information concerning–but not limited to–a wearer of the fabric. The fabric allows a new way to customize information processing devices to “fit” the wearer by selecting and plugging in (or removing) chips/sensors from the fabric thus creating a wearable, mobile information infrastructure that can operate in a stand-alone or networked mode. The fabric can be provided with sensors for monitoring physical aspects of the wearer, for example body vital signs, such as heart rate, EKG, pulse, respiration rate, temperature, voice, and allergic reaction, as well as penetration of the fabric… The information infrastructure component can include, in addition to an electrically conductive textile yarn, a sensor or a connector for a sensor….
The other patent, for “fabric-based sensor for monitoring vital signs” dates from 2005. Here’s that abstract:
The present invention comprises a fabric-based sensor for monitoring vital signs or other electrical impulses of a subject. The sensor is woven or knitted from conductive fibers and, when in contact with the body, receives signals from the wearer and transmits them to a processing or monitoring device through a data-output terminal. The sensor may be integrated into the fabric of a garment or used independently as a conductive patch. Additionally, the sensor may provide bi-directional communication by both monitoring electrical impulses and sending them.
Adidas had no comment on the suit. We’ve contacted other parties and have yet to hear back; we’ll update when we hear something.