A Michigan woman is suing Apple and Nike for a combined $5 billion over claims that the two companies stole her concept for a device called a “Detachable Beeper Disc Digital Gym Shoe with Sensor.” She states that she filed a patent for her invention 20 years ago, well before the companies came up with their own, similar products — namely, the Apple Watch and the Nike+ smart running system.
While she’s seeking $3 billion from Nike, she’s only looking for $2 billion from Apple, so Cupertino’s getting off relatively light on this one.
Daisy Washington-Gross filed her paperwork on April 8, and she offers some slightly confusing evidence to support her claims. In the Nike suit, she says she wrote a letter pitching her idea to Robert Lyden, who was a “patents and inventions assistant” at the time, and Thomas Horgan, an assistant secretary.
“I wanted to see if Nike could have a shoe ready for the 1996 Olympics,” Washington says.
As proof of Nike’s infringement on her idea, the plaintiff presents a link to a page on DIY site Instructables that shows you how you can cut a hole for a Nike+ sensor in any pair of running shoes.
The complaint against Apple says simply that the company didn’t “write or call” her before it made the Apple Watch, which she says is a total rip-off of the “sensor” part of her patent.
“I would like a jury trial to prove the Patent Infringement of their ‘Apple Computer Wrist Watch’ and be awarded (2) Two Billion Dollars because of their infringement and because I was the first to put in for a patent for a ‘computer wrist watch,'” she says in her claim.
We couldn’t find any record of Washington’s patent, possibly because the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office never awarded it to her. Unfortunately, “putting in” a patent doesn’t automatically mean an idea is yours; the office still needs to approve it.
And this isn’t even the first time Washington has sued over this idea. In 2000, she filed another, slightly confusing complaint against Reebok. A judge dismissed that case the following year.