Ditto Technologies is a Silicon Valley startup which allows customers to upload images of their faces and conduct virtual fitting sessions prior to purchasing designer eyewear. The fate of the business could be in jeopardy, however, after potentially negligent invention disclosure management practices have left it open to multiple infringement suits.
According to IAM Magazine, the most serious threat comes from 1-800 Contacts, which purchased a patent in May 2012 covering a similar virtual fitting process that it has yet to commercialize. Ditto is denying its competitor's infringement claims, however, considering its service was already available in the marketplace weeks before the 1-800 Contacts acquisition.
The startup firm has since launched a crowdfunding campaign to defray its impending legal expenses, according to TechCrunch, but disproving 1-800 Contacts' assertion could be an uphill battle. Court proceedings could reveal several scenarios under which the plaintiff developed the invention simultaneously, or even earlier than, Ditto.
By failing to formally disclose its invention ahead of its service debut, or filing for a patent thereafter, Ditto has not neutralized the threat of 1-800 Contacts potentially tracking its initial research and development efforts back to a date preceding anything asserted by the startup firm. According to IAM Magazine, this uncertainty could force additional layoffs for the cash-strapped company and further rattle investor confidence.