US to probe Fitbit, Garmin, other wearable devices after Philips complains

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. trade regulators said on Friday they will investigate wearable monitoring devices, including those made by Fitbit Inc and Garmin Ltd, following allegations of patent violations by rival Koninklijke Philips and its North America unit.

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The U.S. International Trade Commission, in a statement, said the probe would also look at devices by made by California-based Ingram Micro Inc as well as China-based Maintek Computer Co Ltd and Inventec Appliances.

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Netherlands-based Philips and Philips North America LLC, in their complaint, are calling for tariffs or an import ban and allege the other companies have infringed on Philips’ patents or otherwise misappropriated its intellectual property.

Wearable activity trackers have gained popularity among consumers seeking to track their physical activity and other health metrics. The January announcement also comes at a time when a number of people set new year resolutions.

Representatives for the companies could not be immediately reached for comment.

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Although the USITC agreed to launch an investigation, it said it “has not yet made any decision on the merits of the case” and would make its determination “at the earliest practicable time.”