SMT Files Lawsuit Against MLBAM Regarding Pitch-Tracking Technology

The suit alleges breach of contract, patent infringement, and trade-secret violation

SMT has filed a lawsuit against MLB Advanced Media for breach of contract, patent infringement, and trade-secret violation centered on its pitch-tracking technology system, PitchF/X. The 92-page suit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York, alleges that MLBAM failed to abide by terms of a deal with Sportvision (acquired by SMT in 2016) and that the league’s Pitchcast pitch-tracking system infringes on SMT’s patents.

Sportvision and MLBAM had signed a contract in 2006 for SMT’s PITCHf/x tracking system, and, when SMT acquired the company in 2016, it created a series of protections and guarantees set to run through the end of 2019. SMT’s suit alleges that MLBAM, which transitioned from PITCHf/x to its in-house Pitchcast system prior to the 2017 season, did not abide by this agreement. According to the lawsuit, the contract precluded any other entity from supplying pitch-tracking technology to MLBAM during the period of the deal.

The Virtual Strike Zone patent (U.S. Patent No. 7,341,530, “the ’530 Patent”), was co-owned by Sportvision and ESPN through the 2016 MLB season. SMT’s acquisition of Sportvision in October 2016 combined with SMT’s subsequent strategic negotiations with ESPN, resulted in SMT’s gaining 100% ownership of the patent effective Feb.1, 2017 — two months prior to the start of the 2017 MLB season. The patent, which runs through 2023, gives SMT patent protection and market exclusivity over insertion of strike-zone graphics and pitch-location graphics.

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