April 17 (Reuters) - IRobot, the maker of the popular Roomba
robotic vacuum, brought a string of lawsuits on Monday accusing
rivals including The Hoover Co and Black & Decker Corp of using
its patented technology without permission.
Bedford, Massachusetts-based iRobot filed lawsuits
in federal court in Boston against Hoover, Black & Decker,
Bobsweep Inc and Bissell Homecare Inc. IRobot said they infringe
on several of its patents covering the idea of an autonomous
"iRobot will not stand by while others offer products that
infringe on our intellectual property," the company said in a
Representatives for Hoover, Black & Decker, Bissell and
Bobsweep did not immediately return a request for comment.
iRobot also sued China-based Shenzhen Silver Star
Intelligent Technology Co, 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 Company
Black & Decker is a subsidiary of New Britain,
Connecticut-based Stanley Black & Decker Inc.
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 &
Residential robotic vacuums generated $1.5 billion in global
revenues in 2016, an amount expected to reach $2.5 billion by
the end of 2021, according to the market research firm Future
Market Insights. The overall market for household vacuums was
$12 billion in 2015, according to Global Market Insights,
another research firm.
(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)