Samsara tech

Samsara files patent lawsuit against rival Motive

Jan. 29, 2024
The telematics provider alleges that its intellectual property is being stolen, along with other conduct. Motive claims Samsara’s allegations are 'meritless.'

Fleet management and telematics provider Samsara filed a lawsuit Jan. 24 against competing technology developer Motive for ongoing intellectual property theft through patent infringement, false advertising, and other illegal conduct.

Samsara also alleges that technology used in Motive's AI Dashcam is included in the intellectual property theft. Furthermore, Samsara claimed that two studies comparing the rival dash cam software were skewed to favor Motive, formerly known as KeepTruckin.

According to the lawsuit, “every sale that Motive makes at Samsara’s expense causes Samsara not only to lose revenue, but also to suffer irreparable harm, as that customer will not make another purchase for at least the length of its contract with Motive (approximately four years), and likely longer given the costs associated with switching suppliers.”

In a note, Samsara’s founders—Sanjit Biswas, CEO, and John Bicket, CTO—claim they first heard about Motive’s alleged actions from prospective customers, “remarking how similar Motive’s products appeared to ours in terms of form and functionality. This escalated into Motive deploying misleading marketing campaigns and sales tactics, which led us to take a closer look.”

According to Biswas and Bicket, in 2022, Samsara became aware of more alleged instances of Motive copying Samsara’s technology. They claim that “Motive’s senior management team, including its CEO Shoaib Makani, did everything from creating Samsara customer accounts under fictitious names, to accessing our systems, to calling our support lines to solicit information about our platform.” 

Specifically, Samsara claims Motive employees posed as Samsara customers and viewed the Samsara dashboard over 20,000 times to study Samsara’s products. Samsara further claims Motive employees would contact Samsara’s customer support team and ask about Samsara’s products, features, and third-party integration while posing as employees of real Samsara customers. 

The lawsuit also claims Motive “actively solicited Samsara employees to join Motive’s workforce to acquire Samsara’s confidential information relating to current and future product plans, sales, and prospective and existing customers.”

See also: Samsara's new data tools enable fleets to undergo digital rebirth

The following are the patents Samsara claims Motive allegedly infringed upon:

  • U.S. Patent No. 11,190,373 (“Vehicle Gateway Device and Interactive Graphical User Interfaces Associated Therewith”)
  • U.S. Patent No. 11,127,130 (“Machine Vision System and Interactive Graphical User Interfaces Related Thereto”)
  • U.S. Patent No. 11,611,621 (“Event Detection System”)

Questioning Motive's motives

Samsara also alleges Motive created two “intentionally flawed and misleading” studies that compared Motive and Samsara’s products. The lawsuit claims the design of the two studies “ensured that the results would favor Motive and disfavor Samsara.”

Motive allegedly used these studies to make false claims about Samsara’s products. According to the lawsuit, Motive’s employees backed up this claim. In the lawsuit, Motive’s former senior manager said, “[KeepTruckin] relies heavily on observing competitor decision-making and duplicating those efforts. KT chooses not to study customer insights or conduct user research.”

Fleet Maintenance reported previously on the legitimacy of one of the studies in question. The study compared Motive's dashcam to those of Samsara and Lytx, another video telematics provider. Lytx questioned the efficacy of the study, stating: 

"This study, similar to the previous one also funded by Motive, does not compare precision rates,” noted Jim Brady, VP of product management at Lytx. “It only reports how often a behavior is captured."

This means that the system could miss false positives.

VTTI acknowledged the study “was not designed to measure false positives,” which would require “a different research protocol."

Communication breakdown

Samsara’s founders claim that they tried to communicate with Motive’s leadership about this alleged misconduct, but according to Samsara, Motive’s board and CEO denied any wrongdoing through Motive’s legal team. 

In response to the lawsuit, Motive’s co-founder and CEO, Shoaib Makani, shared the following comment via email: “Samsara’s allegations and associated campaign against Motive are meritless. They are a result of Samsara’s inability to develop competitive AI technology and the fact that they are losing customers, especially large enterprise accounts, to Motive. This courtroom tactic is an attempt to limit competition, and we will fight these baseless accusations to the fullest extent.” 

Through the lawsuit, Samsara is asking the court to “order Motive to stop making, selling, or using its Vehicle Gateway and Dash Cam products, as well as the associated software,” according to Samsara’s litigation website. Additionally, Samsara is seeking compensation from Motive for the losses and damages the company claims to have suffered, according to Samsara’s press release. 

Another lawsuit

Samsara’s lawsuit against Motive is similar to another lawsuit filed against Motive at the end of last year. Omnitracs, a fleet management software solution provider, alleges that Motive copied Omnitracs’ products and technology through the knowledge of former Omnitracs employees. Omnitracs claims Motive infringed upon seven of Omnitracs’ patents. 

This is still an active lawsuit in California court, though Motive filed to have the complaint dismissed on Dec. 6, 2023.

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