Did Fitbit copy Fitbug? Lawsuit claims it did

By Brian Dolan
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Fitbit Fitbug PackagesAt the end of March, London-based Fitbug filed a lawsuit against San Francisco-based Fitbit that alleges trademark infringement and unfair business practices, which Fitbug claims has caused it irreparable harm and damage. While the company has stated that it sent Fitbit a cease-and-desist letter last year, the official lawsuit was filed on March 29, 2013 -- just a few weeks after reports surfaced that Fitbit had raised $30 million at a supposed $300 million valuation.

The companies have a somewhat similar product portfolio. Fitbug offers a Bluetooth-enabled activity tracker called Fitbug Air, a Bluetooth Smart-enabled disc-shaped activity tracker called Fitbug Orb, a Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure cuff called Fitbug Luv, and a Bluetooth-enabled weight scale called Fitbug Wow. On its website Fitbug sometimes refers to its devices, especially its activity trackers, as "Bugs".

Fitbit offers its own set of activity trackers, including clip-ons Fitbit One and Fitbit Zip as well as its newest device: the wristworn Fitbit Flex. It also launched a WiFi-enabled weight scale called the Fitbit Aria in early 2012. While many of its competitors offer smartphone-enabled blood pressure monitors, Fitbit has yet to add one to its lineup.

While Fitbit is certainly the better known and better funded of the two companies, Fitbug, which got its start in 2004, has been in the market longer. Fitbit was founded in 2007. Fitbug also positions itself as much more of a B2B company than Fitbit does, even though both sell their wares direct-to-consumer and through B2B channels.

Fitbug has inked deals with other digital health companies to provide hardware that can help their users track activities. Fitbug's B2B customers include, among others: Healthrageous, The Vitality Group, and MeYou Health. As MobiHealthNews has reported in the past, The Vitality Group's US division is a joint venture with Humana. In 2011 Fitbug announced that its offerings would be offered to 16,000 employees through The Vitality Group -- one of the employers is a pharmaceutical company headquartered in the US and the other is a "leading supplier of services to healthcare providers" in the US.

Since Fitbug is listed on the London's Stock Exchange, AIM, it has to be a bit more transparent about its financial situation than privately-held Fitbit. According to the latest financial report from Fitbug from September 2012, it posted a loss of about $988,000 (649,000 GBP) on revenues of about $1.02 million (674,000 GBP) for the first six months of last year. The company posted a loss of about $1.2 million for the calendar year of 2011 on revenues of just under $2 million.

In response to the allegations, Fitbit CEO James Park sent MobiHealthNews a written statement: “Fitbit is very proud of our fantastic products and reputation, which we have earned solely through the tremendous efforts of the Fitbit team. We are surprised by the allegations contained in Fitbug’s complaint. We are confident of our legal position in the case and look forward to addressing the allegations in court.”

Of course, Fitbug's lawsuit is not the first time a digital fitness company has filed a suit against a newer startup. Last May BodyMedia filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Basis Science.

For more on Fitbug's allegations that Fitbit is infringing on its trademark, check out the visual evidence that Fitbug is submitting to the court in the slide show below:

names-and-logoWhile Fitbit has since changed its logo, Fitbug claims the longtime Fitbit logo above copied Fitbug's blue dot above the "i".