Oura sues smart ring rival Circular for allegedly copying technology

Circular claims Oura is stifling competition.

Dan Cooper/Engadget

Even smart rings aren't immune to patent wars. Wareable notes Oura has sued fledgling rival Circular for allegedly violating patents covering both ring design and biometric data collection. Circular's upcoming wearable allegedly copies Oura's work by both stuffing electronics into a cavity and gathering info to generate an overall energy score.

Oura said it asked Circular to cease and desist in January, roughly a year after the newcomer started its crowdfunding campaign. Circular took on lawyers to review the patents in response.

Circular unsurprisingly objected to the lawsuit and characterized it as an attempt to stifle competition. In a statement, a spokesperson told Wareable that pursuing a monopoly has "never driven innovation." Oura supposedly wants the smart ring market to itself, in other words.

It's not certain which side will prevail. While the patents are broad, effectively covering many attempts to make smart rings, the US Patent Office did approve them. Circular may have to challenge the patents themselves to prevail in court, not just dispute their relevance to its particular finger-based technology.

Update 5/13/22 7:30pm ET: "At ŌURA, we embrace creativity and innovation in health technology, including from our competitors," an Oura spokesperson told Engadget via email. "However, what we cannot accept is direct copying, as this does nothing to help consumers or advance our industry. The lawsuit filed against Circular addresses willful infringement of at least two ŌURA patents."