Supreme Court to Decide on Review of World Jump Rope Champion’s Patent Case Against Rogue Fitness
Editor’s Note: This case has been determined as of Tuesday, February 28 after the publishing of this article.
After filing a patent infringement suit against Rogue Fitness in 2018, world jump rope champion and the owner of CrossFit Untapped in Louisville, CO, Molly Metz, is hopeful she might finally get her moment in court.
On February 24, the Supreme Court will decide whether or not to review Metz’ case against Rogue Fitness, which was dropped when her two patents were invalidated in 2020.
Remind me: Metz is the owner of Jump Rope Systems, LLC, a Colorado-based company that was awarded patents 7,789,809 and 8,136,208 in 2010 and 2012 respectively, and who went on to file a patent infringement suit against Rogue Fitness in 2018 claiming Rogue “stole” their jump rope technology.
- The technology: Metz’ technology uses a bearing shaft and pivoting-eye-style design that allows the jump rope handle to spin faster than the traditional rope.
- Metz claims she had been in talks with Rogue Fitness founder Bill Henniger about building a partnership between her company and theirs, but then he suddenly “went cold on me,” Metz said, and allegedly went on to steal her patented technology, using it in various Rogue jump ropes through the years.
What happened next: In 2020, Metz’ case was sent to an administrative court (common to patent lawsuits) which led to her patents being invalidated by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), something Metz blames on the America Invents Act, a bill that was passed by Congress in 2011 and has led to thousands of patents being invalidated since 2011.
- “Since 2011 until now, over 3,000 patents have been invalidated. Canceled,” Metz said. “Seventy five percent of cases go to this administrative point, where 84 percent of patents are found invalid.”
- Ultimately, her unvalidated patents led to the death of suit against Rogue Fitness.
Metz was devastated to lose something she worked so hard for, something she spent four years trying to achieve.
- “When you get a patent, you’re very proud. It’s difficult to get a patent,” she said. “You spend your entire life building something…and you (finally) get this protection and so you get your right to go to court should somebody steal it.”
But she never got this right, as her patents were stripped from her before she had the chance to fight.
Where she is today: Metz filed an appeal to the Supreme Court, and today she isn’t trying to regain her invalidated patents, but she is hoping for compensation for the damages incurred during the years prior to 2020 when her patents were valid.
- “Our case right now, we’re raising our hand and saying, well if you have canceled our patents today, what about the past? What about Rogue Fitness? They used my technology from 2012 to 2020 when it was a valid patent. Because you can’t cancel something that wasn’t once (in existence),” she said.
- This is what her lawyer Robert Greenspoon argued to the Supreme Court on January 21 (That Metz should be entitled to damages done by Rogue Fitness prior to her patents being invalidated in 2020).
His argument did enough to persuade the Supreme Court, so on February 24, Metz is supposed to find out whether the Supreme Court will reconsider her case. If they do, she’s hoping she’ll finally get her day in district court.
Metz’ message: From 2018 until now, Metz has sunk $500,000 of her own money into the suit because she’s passionate about protecting the rights of small business owners and inventors like herself.
- What the law is promoting right now, Metz explained, is that “If you’re a big company, you should steal. Because you know if the little guy comes after you and says, they’re just going to put you through that administrative court and say, ‘We’re going to invalidate your patents.’ It is really really really wrong,” she said.
- “Running a small business is hard enough. And then when the government says, ‘Hey, give us $40,000 and spend four years in examination and we’ll give you this patent and protect you.’ And then they take it away…I’m broke,” she continued.
But for Metz, the case isn’t just about her. She feels like she’s fighting for all the hard working small business owners who worked hard to build something only to have it stripped away from them.
“Our country is made off of innovation. It’s what brought us to where we are today,” Metz said. “I won’t get my patents back, no. So we’re kind of fighting for everyone else when we go to DC.”