Jawbone has scored a victory over fitness tracker rival Fitbit, with a San Francisco judge ruling in a preliminary injunction that former Jawbone employees breached their contracts when they left to join Fitbit.
The judge ruled the employees must return all "confidential, proprietary information, technical data, trade secrets or know-how" and allow an independent audit of their computers and online files.
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Fitbit has stated "the hearing was focused on the exchange of information between Jawbone and its former employees and has no impact on Fitbit."
Back in June, Jawbone accused its fitness tracking rival of infringing three of its patents.
A Jawbone spokesperson said: "An extensive review revealed that Fitbit's wearables infringed on our patents. In order to protect our investment in products and technology, we felt we had no choice but to take this action."
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That complaint came just two weeks after initial legal action was kicked-off by Jawbone.
The UP3 maker, according to the New York Times, filed papers with a California State Court detailing "systematic plundering" of confidential information.
It claimed that Fitbit intentionally targeted Jawbone employees - with accusations that as many as one in three people were contacted - with a view to employing them after they had downloaded company information to USB drives.
"This case arises out of the clandestine efforts of Fitbit to steal talent, trade secrets and intellectual property from its chief competitor," lawyers for Jawbone stated.
In July, Jawbone filed a third legal complaint against Fitbit. The proceedings, filed with the International Trade Commission, seeked a ruling on the previous charges inside 15 months and also contains a cease-and-desist order.
A WSJ report suggested that the legal action could act as an accelerator for the previous complaints.
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Fitbit got in touch with Wareable to deny the claims, however:
"As the pioneer and leader in the connected health and fitness market, Fitbit has no need to take information from Jawbone or any other company. Since Fitbit's start in 2007, our employees have developed and delivered innovative product offerings to empower our customers to lead healthier, more active lives. We are unaware of any confidential or proprietary information of Jawbone in our possession and we intend to vigorously defend against these allegations."
Fitbit has been the most successful of the new era of wearable companies; it has sold more than 22 million devices since 2011, and it has a wearable tech market share of more than 34%. The company hit a valuation of over $4 billion after its IPO earlier this year.
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