Jawbone adds another ex-employee to suit against Fitbit over allegedly stolen trade secrets

By Aditi Pai
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Jawbone has added a new defendant to one of its cases against Fitbit. This case is the one in which Jawbone alleges Fitbit poached employees who stole Jawbone trade secrets, according to Fortune.

In the amended filing, 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 weren’t given back.

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.

Since this lawsuit was first filed, Jawbone and Fitbit have started a few other legal battles.

In June 2015, Jawbone filed a second lawsuit, this time Jawbone sued Fitbit over alleged infringement of three patents Jawbone obtained when it acquired BodyMedia in 2013. BodyMedia’s extensive IP catalog was one of the key drivers of that acquisition.

And a month later, a report emerged that Jawbone is trying to get the US International Trade Commission to block Fitbit’s imports into the US based on the same complaints that form the basis of the two lawsuits against Fitbit. Towards the end of August 2015, the ITC confirmed that it planned to investigate Jawbone’s claims.

Then in November, Jawbone filed an answer and counterclaim against Fitbit in response to the patent infringement lawsuit that Fitbit filed in early September. In the counterclaim that Jawbone filed, the company said that Fitbit's suit was a "meritless patent case" that is "part of its by-any-means-necessary campaign" to slow down its competitors and maintain its position as the dominant fitness tracking device company. In that same month, a report emerged that Jawbone had laid off 60 employees, 15 percent of its workforce.

Most recently, a month ago, Fitbit claimed that certain Jawbone patents are overly broad and thus invalid. As a result, Fitbit is challenging a Jawbone patent before the US Patent and Trade Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board as well as asking the ITC to throw out three others based on a Supreme Court precedent.