iRobot is once again fighting to protect intellectual property related to its popular Roomba robot vacuum. iRobot filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in the District of Massachusetts to stop sales and distribution of the Shark IQ Robot.
iRobot alleges the Shark IQ Robot infringes on several patents related to the Roomba i7+ robot vacuum, including self-empyting technology. The Shark IQ Robot is half the price and was released more than one year after the Roomba i7+. iRobot said the Shark IQ Robot infringes on six iRobot patents, including:
- US Patent No. 9,921,586 for selected room cleaning
- US Patent No. 9,550,294 for recharge and resume technology with mapping
- US Patent No. 9,492,048 for auto-evacuation technology
- Patents for the Roomba i7+ robot’s roller technology, modularity, and more
“Shark is not even shy about being a copycat,” iRobot said in the lawsuit. iRobot added, “while it may have been easy for Shark to rush its copycat product in time for the holiday sales season, it will be impossible for iRobot to recoup its losses.”
Despite increasing competition, iRobot Co-founder and CEO Colin Angle recently told Yahoo! Finance iRobot has been able to maintain a global market share of the robot-vacuum market of about 60%. “However, US tariffs on China in the ongoing trade war are dragging on the company, forcing it to raise prices to counter the 25% levies on imports from China, and hobbling growth in its key North American market.” Sales in the US account for about half of iRobot’s revenue.
“As demonstrated by our victory at the [International Trade Commission] ITC last year, iRobot takes strong measures to protect our intellectual property and the hard work of our engineering teams,” said Glen Weinstein, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, iRobot. “We will not stand by while our technology gets brazenly ripped off, and we will continue to vigorously defend our innovations both in the U.S. and abroad.”
In December 2018, the ITC ruled that US Patent No. 9,038,233 was valid and infringed upon by several companies. The ruling now prevents infringing robotic vacuum products from bObsweep, Hoover, and Shenzhen Silver Star Intelligent Technology from being imported and sold in the US.
SharkNinja, however, filed a pre-emptive lawsuit in federal court in Delaware. It is asking the court to rule the Shark IQ does not infringe on six patents cited in iRobot’s complaint.
“iRobot’s lawsuit is their latest attempt to dominate the robot vacuum cleaner market through litigation and deny consumers the choice of robotic vacuum cleaners at affordable prices,” SharkNinja said. “SharkNinja filed its lawsuit first in order to quickly clear its name and put an immediate stop to iRobot’s threats.”
The company said it “will aggressively defend itself against any and all unsubstantiated claims of patent infringement, and is confident that it will prevail in this matter.”