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Innovation or imitation? Oura accuses Ultrahuman in high-stakes lawsuit

Oura and Ultrahuman are locked in a David versus Goliath battle, not over territory or treasure, but over something far more contemporary – the intellectual property of a smart ring. Yes, you heard that right. Finish-based Oura has thrown down the legal gauntlet against Ultrahuman, an Indian upstart, accusing them of copying their iconic smart ring.

The smart ring space seems to be making all the wearable tech news recently. But this time we are not reporting on a new device or entrant – something quite different is making the headlines.

Oura has become a juggernaut in the smart ring space, thanks to its Oura Ring. This nifty device is beloved by a large number of regular folks and celebrities alike. Its health tracking abilities consist of everything from heart rate variability to sleep patterns. Oura’s journey from a 2013 startup to a €2 billion behemoth is nothing short of remarkable. On the other side, we have Ultrahuman, an Indian company initially known for its health and exercise tracking sensors, which recently ventured into the smart ring market.

In fact we posted our hands-on review of Ultrahuman Ring Air a few months ago. The device does a pretty good job at monitoring resting-type stats and comes with some innovative features like the circadian clock and stimulant restriction window. Its design is comfortable and lightweight with impressive battery life, and while it regularly introduces new features, some aspects like step count accuracy and app complexity could be improved. Overall, the Ultrahuman Ring Air, priced at $350 without subscription fees, stands out as an insightful, educational, and cost-effective health device. In fact, it is a decent alternative to the pricier Oura Ring.

The legal tussle

As first detailed in The Next Web, the crux of the dispute lies in Oura’s allegations. And it’s largely about intellectual property.

They claim Ultrahuman’s ring is not just inspired but a blatant copy of their technology, down to the titanium used, the skin and PPG sensors, and even the batteries from the same suppliers. More specifically, they claim Ultrahuman has infringed two Oura patents U.S. Patent Nos. 10,893,833 and 10,842,429.

The plot thickens with claims that Ultrahuman accessed proprietary information through former Oura employees and investors. Oura also alleges that Ultrahuman’s ring design, social media strategy, and app interface are strikingly similar to their own.

The Finish company, with its deep investment in R&D and a shift towards a broader health tracking device, has much at stake. The same can be said for the smart ring newcomer – Ultrahuman.

Oura has been involved in several lawsuits in recent years, both as plaintiff and defendant, indicating a fiercely competitive and legally complex landscape in the smart rings space. This includes companies such as Circular SAS, Healthiness LLC and ConnectQuest LLC.

Is there substance to Oura’s allegations, or are we witnessing a case of assertive market control in a rapidly expanding industry? The resolution rests in the hands of the judiciary. Oura Health initiated legal proceedings on September 1, 2023, at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. We will be following this with interest as the outcome of the lawsuit may have implications for the broader smart rings market.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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