Nautilus Inc., which owns exercise brands like Nautilus and Bowflex, and ICON Health & Fitness, which owns NordicTrack among other exercise brands, have been battling over intellectual property for years. ICON recently upped the ante by bringing a complaint to the International Trade Commission, seeking to exclude all imported Bowflex exercise machines from entry into the United States.
These companies have a history. ICON sued Nautilus in 2006, alleging infringement of ICON’s treadmill patents. That case was quickly settled, and the parties avoided patent litigation for ten years. That peace was broken in 2016, when Nautilus sued ICON for failing to pay royalties on a patent license, and separately for infringing Nautilus’ elliptical machine patents. The dispute over licensing royalties ended in Nautilus’ favor, with a $1.8 million judgment at trial in 2018, which was affirmed by the Fifth Circuit earlier this year.
The patent dispute, however, is ongoing, and continues to grow. In 2016, ICON challenged Nautilus’ patents at the USPTO, filing petitions for inter partes review, and requests for reexamination, arguing that the patents were invalid. Many of Nautilus’ patent claims survived those challenges, and Nautilus’ infringement case against ICON is now moving forward.
Separately, in 2017, Nautilus went to the USPTO to challenge ICON’s patents covering elliptical machines and magnetic resistance machines. Many of ICON’s patent claims survived those challenges, and ICON has now filed a complaint in the International Trade Commission, based on those surviving patent claims. ICON is accusing Nautilus’ Bowflex exercise system of infringing ICON’s patents on magnetic resistance machines. If ICON is successful, Bowflex machines will not be allowed into the country.
These two fitness companies are battling it out for patent supremacy in every major patent venue: federal district court, the USPTO, and now, the ITC. It remains to be seen which side will find the advantage.
The ongoing Utah case on patent infringement is Nautilus, Inc. v. ICON Health & Fitness, Inc., 1:17-cv-00154 (D. Utah). The ITC case is In re Certain Cardio-Strength Training Magnetic-Resistance Cable Exercise Machines and Components Thereof, Docket No. 337-TA-3380 (pending institution), with a companion case ICON Health & Fitness v. Nautilus, Inc., 3:19-cv-05217 (W.D. Wash.).