Fitbit Sues Jawbone For Patent Infringement

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The legal saga between Fitbit and Jawbone has taken yet another turn. After filing three lawsuits this summer alleging that Fitbit stole corporate secrets and infringed on its patents, Jawbone is now finding itself in the defendant’s seat. On Thursday, Fitbit filed its own lawsuit, claiming that Jawbone and BodyMedia, which Jawbone acquired in 2013, are both violating a series of patents it holds.

The legal sparring between Fitbit and Jawbone began in May 2015, as Fitbit was preparing of its IPO. Less than a month after filing with the SEC, the company’s chief rival, Jawbone, sued Fitbit for stealing trade secrets. The complaint from that suit reads, “This case arises out of the clandestine efforts of Fitbit to steal talent, trade secrets, and intellectual property from its chief competitor.” That was the first of the three lawsuits filed by Jawbone. In June, just prior to its IPO, Jawbone filed a second suit claiming patent infringement on a generically worded fitness tracker patent it took ownership of as part of its BodyMedia acquisition. In July, Fitbit was slammed with a third lawsuit; this time, Jawbone filed a compliant with the International Trade Commission attempting to block Fitbit from importing its fitness trackers, or any of their components, while the other two lawsuits were being argued.

Now, four months after the first suit was filed, Fitbit has fired back with a patent infringement suit of its own. Filed in Delaware, where BodyMedia is headquartered, the complaint outlines three patents that it claims its rival is violating. Interestingly, two of these three patents were awarded in May 2015, just days before Jawbone filed its first lawsuit against Fitbit. The first patent, which Fitbit was awarded on May 26th, just one day before Jawbone’s first suit was filed, describes Fitbit’s heart rate monitor sensors and user interface. The next patent, which was issued to Fitbit just a few weeks earlier on May 12, describes a tracker-based notification system that triggers alerts “based on activity detected by an activity monitoring device.” The last patent describes a “method for detecting and recording the actions of a person.” In the argument, Fitbit is seeking a jury trial, damages, and recovery of legal costs associated with the case.

Despite legal battles and growing market pressure from Apple and Samsung, Fitbit is having a terrific year. The company’s stock jumped 11 percent Tuesday after analysts downplayed the threat that it was facing from Apple. Morgan Stanley upgraded Fitbit to a Buy on Monday, forecasting an 80-percent increase in share prices over the next 12 months.


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