Boston Dynamics, the robotics division now owned by car manufacturer Hyundai, is accusing Ghost Robotics of “stealing” the design of the Spot robot dog for the development of the Spirit 40 and Vision 60 models, which are competing products with very similar designs. Boston Dynamics is thus calling the company to court for intellectual property infringement.
The technology used by Boston Dynamics to develop Spot is patented
Apparently this is not the first time Boston Dynamics has called on Boston Dynamics to stop production of its competing products. In 2020, Ghost Robotics received an invitation to study patents related to the development of Spot, and then received two letters requesting that it stop developing and promoting its products of this kind.
Boston Dynamics representatives say they are not against competition, in fact they welcome it with open arms, but the company will protect its intellectual property if it believes it has been used without consent. In this case, technologies such as those for righting the robot when it goes off balance and when it climbs stairs are allegedly invented by Boston Dynamics for Spot, and Ghost Robotics is using them without paying for licenses.
Since Boston Dynamics operated for many years strictly as a research company, it holds many patents and is responsible for inventing many technologies in this field. Thus, it is likely that this is only the first in a long line of lawsuits we will see concerning robots of this kind.
Recently, Boston Dynamics joined a group of companies that promise they will not develop robots that will be used to harm humans, such as those used in armed warfare. Ghost Robotics, in contrast, appears to be developing such robots specifically to be sold to the military on military contracts.