Jump Rope Sys., LLC v. Coulter Ventures, LLC is being closely watched by legal experts and inventors with similar patent infringement cases
LOUISVILLE, CO – Feb. 7, 2023 – The U.S. Supreme Court will consider this month whether to hear a case brought by five-time world champion rope jumper Molly Metz, who sued global fitness company Rogue Fitness, claiming it stole the patented technology that made her speed jump rope one of the best and fastest on the market.
The case, Jump Rope Sys., LLC v. Coulter Ventures, LLC was filed in 2018 and is being closely watched by legal experts and inventors with similar patent infringement cases. The case was appealed in 2020.
“What I have been going through and what my husband Dirk (Tomsin) has gone through with the business, I don’t want that for anyone,” said Metz, founder of JumpNrope, a Louisville, CO-based company that sells jump ropes online and holds rope jumping seminars aimed at the CrossFit market. “It has fueled me to help create change in a system that is stacked against entrepreneurs and inventors. I felt like my story happened for a reason.”
Metz is scheduled to meet with members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to discuss her story and urge representatives to adopt legislation sponsored by Rep. Thomas Massie (R) KY, which calls for patent reform and inventor protections.
According to US Inventor, an organization that advocates for inventors and innovative small businesses, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has cancelled 85 percent out of 3,000 patents.
One reason Metz’s case is receiving attention is because her lawyer, Robert Greenspoon, an attorney at Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig in Vienna, Va., argued in a reply brief to the Supreme Court on January 21 that Metz is entitled to “pre-cancellation damages resulting from Rogue’s infringement.”
Metz, he argues, should receive compensation for jump ropes she sold prior to the PTAB cancelling her patents. Greenspoon noted that the sale of a jump rope is like the sale of a magazine in that the seller is compensated for the magazine it has sold prior to a subscriber’s cancellation.
“Cancellation, a term with prospective meaning, does not void a previously issued patent. Moreover, because inter partes review proceedings violate due process, the purported cancellations had no legal effect,” according to the brief.
Greenspoon says, “Infringers have gaslighted courts and everyone so far into thinking that cancellation goes backwards, but it does not. Molly is stepping up for everybody, and all innovation in this country. I think you can just multiply Molly’s story by 1,000, by 10,000, by the people who never go to court, but just behind the scenes are trying to do licensing deals. Without courts fixing these errors, people just won’t get out of bed and invent.”
Metz, who is known as the “Queen of the Rope,” began working on a new jump rope design in 2007 that could adapt to her body after a car accident left her with a broken ankle and a bad hip. She spent a year designing her speed rope and then borrowed money from her mother to file for patents.
While the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted her patents in 2010 and 2012 for her Revolution Rope, Rogue Fitness successfully fought Metz in the PTAB to invalidate the patents. Metz’s patents were cancelled by the PTAB in 2020.
Metz has spent about $500,000 fighting Rogue at the PTAB alone and is now hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. At its peak, Metz’s business from 2011 to 2014 had purchase orders for 5,000 ropes a month that were manufactured in the U.S. It employed 12 people in her factory and 30 coaches who held jump rope seminars for children and competitors. Today, JumpNrope has two employees in Louisville.
“I’ve had patents on my jump ropes,” she says. “I’ve taken money from people who have
honored my patents and then our government says, ‘Well, Molly, your patent might not be valid, and you need to go over to this court, and you need to spend $500,000 and four years of your life and show us that is valid.’ And I lost. Eighty-four percent of inventors are losing.”
Metz continues, “You grow up as a kid reading about Thomas Edison … and it’s exciting when you get your patent. And it took a long time and when everyone’s rallying behind you and saying you’re an inventor and you say how proud you are, and you sell your products and then in three months, it took three months by the way for the PTAB to come to their decision. The PTAB hearing was 30 minutes. It was on a Zoom call, it was during COVID. There was a barking dog behind one of the judges and that’s my life’s work on the line and they disregard you.”
To hear Molly Metz in her own words and more from Robert Greenspoon click the link: https://youtu.be/AxiOlxa1iME
Founded in 2006, JumpNrope manufactures and sells online jump ropes and speed ropes for all levels of jumpers and athletes. The company manufactures its jump ropes in Louisville, CO. Over the past 10 years, Metz has conducted more than 900 jump rope seminars at 600 CrossFit gyms across the country. She and her husband, Dirk Tomsin, operate a CrossFit gym called CrossFit Untapped in Louisville. For more information visit our website or click on Facebook and Instagram.