Six former and current Fitbit employees charged for stealing secrets from Jawbone

You thought the dispute ended in December - it didn't
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Despite Fitbit and Jawbone reaching an agreement over a legal dispute regarding trade secrets back in December, US federal prosecutors have charged six former and current Fitbit employees in an indictment case.

The indictment relates to possession of stolen trade secrets, stating that six former Jawbone employees received knowledge after leaving the company, therefore violating signed confidentiality agreements.

Read this: The best fitness trackers you can buy

If you need a refresher on this seemingly never-ending legal battle, here's the skinny. Jawbone initially accused Fitbit of stealing its secrets back in 2015 when some of its employees jumped ship to Fitbit. Jawbone claimed that some of this technology manifested in the Fitbit Alta, and so it brought a case against Fitbit for stealing its technology and infringing its patents.

However, a judge ruled in Fitbit's favour, and the battle raged on over patents before a statement revealed in December seemed to indicate the spat was all over, reading: "The terms of the agreement will remain confidential and both sides look forward to putting these disputes behind them."

But, as we now know, it didn't end, and six employees have been charged with one or more counts of possession of trade secrets and could face up to 10 years in prison, if convicted.

Jawbone Health, a spinoff of the original company, told The Verge: "We believe the Justice Department's indictment of six current and former Fitbit Inc. employees for stealing trade secrets from their former employer, Jawbone, validates the claims we made in our 2015 lawsuit against Fitbit."

Meanwhile, a Fitbit spokersperson said: "In a trade secret misappropriation case brought by Jawbone in the International Trade Commission in 2016 that involved these same individuals, a federal administrative law judge during a nine-day trial on the merits found that no Jawbone trade secrets were misappropriated or used in any Fitbit product, feature or technology."

Extensive details are fairly scarce currently, but we expect more will emerge as the case develops. And with the employees charged not scheduled to make an initial court appearance until 9 July, we may all have to settle in for another lengthy Fitbit vs. Jawbone episode.

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Conor Allison

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Conor moved to Wareable Media Group in 2017, initially covering all the latest developments in smartwatches, fitness trackers, and VR. He made a name for himself writing about trying out translation earbuds on a first date and cycling with a wearable airbag, as well as covering the industry’s latest releases.

Following a stint as Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint, Conor returned to Wareable Media Group in 2022 as Editor-at-Large. Conor has become a wearables expert, and helps people get more from their wearable tech, via Wareable's considerable how-to-based guides. 

He has also contributed to British GQ, Wired, Metro, The Independent, and The Mirror. 


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