Web Extras: Functional Trainers -- Patent Protection

Through the work of founder Roy Simonson – it didn't hurt being first to market either -- FreeMotion Fitness has accumulated eight patents for its technology and on occasion has protected its intellectual property in the court system.
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By John Agoglia
For the complete story, see GearTrends® Fitness 2005, p. 34, "A New Dimension"

Courting function
Through the work of founder Roy Simonson – it didn't hurt being first to market either -- FreeMotion Fitness has accumulated eight patents for its technology and on occasion has protected its intellectual property in the court system.
 
There have only been three cases of claimed infringement filed by the company: Hoist, August 2001; Cybex, December 2001; and Nautilus, September 2002. Strangely the Cybex and Nautilus cases, were combined into one case on 2003 by order of the court.

While the Hoist case was dismissed in 2003, the case against Cybex and Nautilus was decided in favor of the defendants, although Nautilus has appealed the decision and that is still pending as of August 2005.

“The patent infringement suits we have pursued against Cybex and Nautilus are still pending; we feel confident that we will prevail in these situations,” said Kathleen White, FreeMotion spokeswoman. “We will create precedence for the patent infringement against these two companies, and then we will diligently pursue all other infringers.”

Trying to set precedence is not going to be easy for anyone, according to some manufacturers, as the lack of legal activity may imply. We all know about the infringement suits that fly liberally when it comes to treadmills and ellipticals.

“Getting and protecting patents is much harder for this category than for several others,” said Dan Foust, Northeast retail sales manager for True Fitness, which introduced its 550 HGRAP home gym with radial pull arms incorporated in a multi-station design a little over two years ago. “We have had adjustable cable columns and adjustable arms around for a long time so it is hard to patent these products.”

Don't miss the full story, "A New Dimension," in the GearTrends® Fitness 2005 issue. To download the full issue, go to www.geartrends.com/magazines.

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