That sucks; Hoover used iRobot’s vacuum patents ‘without permission’

iRobot, the maker of the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner, has brought a string of lawsuits accusing rivals, including Hoover and Black & Decker, of using its patented technology without permission. Massachusetts-based iRobot filed lawsuits in federal court in Boston against Hoover, Black & Decker, Bobsweep and Bissell Homecare.

The company said their rivals infringed on several of its patents covering the idea of an autonomous floor-cleaning robot. “iRobot will not stand by while others offer products that infringe on our intellectual property,” the company said in a statement.

iRobot created the market for robotic vacuums when it launched Roomba in 2002 but has faced increased competition from other appliance makers. Hoover launched its line of Quest robotic vacuums, over which iRobot is suing, in 2016. Other vacuums at issue in the lawsuits are the Bissell SmartClean, Bobsweep’s Bobi and Black & Decker’s BDH5000WM.

Residential robotic vacuums generated $1.5bn in global revenues in 2016, an amount expected to reach $2.5bn by the end of 2021, according to the market research firm Future Market Insights. The overall market for household vacuums was $12bn in 2015, according to Global Market Insights, another research firm.

The company is also suing China-based Shenzhen Silver Star Intelligent Technology, which iRobot said manufactures Hoover and Black & Decker vacuums. One of the oldest and best-known makers of traditional vacuums, Hoover is now owned by TTI Floor Care North America, a subsidiary of Hong-Kong based Techtronic Industries. Black & Decker is a subsidiary of Connecticut-based Stanley Black & Decker.