ITC judge clears Fitbit of stealing trade secrets from Jawbone

By Jonah Comstock
01:38 pm
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The International Trade Commission will officially not be blocking Fitbit's imports. Rival Jawbone asked the ITC to do just that a little over a year ago, filing parallel cases with the ITC to two cases they had filed against Fitbit in federal or state court: one pertaining to allegedly violated patents and the other pertaining to allegedly stolen trade secrets.

The patent case was dismissed in May in an entertaining decision by Judge Dee Lord, who dismissed the patents as overly broad based on a Supreme Court precedent, Alice v CSL Bank, that is being increasingly applied to patents in the digital health space. But the trade secret case remained.

“We are pleased with the ITC’s initial determination rejecting Jawbone’s trade secret claims,” Fitbit CEO James Park said in a statement. “We greatly appreciate the ALJ’s time and diligent work on this case.  From the outset of this litigation, we have maintained that Jawbone’s allegations were utterly without merit and nothing more than a desperate attempt by Jawbone to disrupt Fitbit’s momentum to compensate for their own lack of success in the market.  Our customers can be assured that we remain fully committed to creating innovative products that consumers love, and that we are excited about the pipeline of new products coming out this year.”  

MobiHealthNews has reached out to Jawbone for a comment and will update if we receive one.

We'll have to wait a little longer for Judge Lord's justifications in dismissing the case, as the full decision won't be released until enough time has passed to identify and redact the confidential business information contained therein. For the time being, a brief statement from the bench says Lord has found that "no party has been shown to have misappropriated any trade secret."

Now the patents have been dismissed in both ITC and federal court and the trade secret case has been dismissed at the ITC, Jawbone's last chance for a legal victory against its rival will be the trade secret case in California superior court. That case is continuing on, with Fitbit recently adding a new lawyer, Josh Krevitt, to the case. Krevitt also represented Fitbit in the ITC hearing.

News first broke that Jawbone sued Fitbit for stealing trade secrets in May 2015. In the filing, Jawbone describes one of its former employees as requesting a meeting with company executives to better understand the company's future strategy and get a look at prototype devices for future products. Weeks before leaving to join Fitbit, she then downloaded the presentation, which Jawbone said was its "Playbook for the Future" onto her personal computer.

​In an amended filing, earlier this year, Jawbone added Fitbit employee Jing Qi “Gee” Weiden, who was a former Jawbone employee, to the defendants. Weiden allegedly sent sensitive Jawbone company files to her Fitbit corporate email. Jawbone also amended the complaint to add that Fitbit employees did not hand over all Jawbone property before leaving. While former Fitbit employees handed 18,000 files back to Jawbone when they were asked to last year, an investigation found that 335,191 Jawbone files allegedly weren’t given back.

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