Wearables Maker Jawbone Sues Fitbit Over Alleged Data Theft

Jawbone alleges that Fitbit hired away Jawbone employees who then improperly downloaded sensitive internal company data and took it with them.

Jawbone, Fitbit, wearables, lawsuit, fitness bands

Wearables vendor Jawbone is suing rival Fitbit based on allegations that Fitbit hired away some Jawbone employees who then took confidential corporate information with them to their new jobs.

The lawsuit, which was filed in California State Court in San Francisco, charges that Fitbit employees were "systematically plundering" confidential information by hiring the former Jawbone workers, who "improperly downloaded sensitive materials shortly before leaving," according to a May 27 report by The New York Times.

"This case arises out of the clandestine efforts of Fitbit to steal talent, trade secrets and intellectual property from its chief competitor," Jawbone lawyers wrote in the complaint, according to the story.

The lawsuit comes at an interesting time for Fitbit, which earlier in May filed for an initial public offering. The company has been in the business of creating and selling a full line of health tracking and fitness bands since 2007.

Spokespersons for Fitbit and for Jawbone did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment by eWEEK on May 28.

In the Jawbone complaint, which was obtained by the Times, Jawbone alleged that "recruiters for Fitbit contacted nearly one-third of Jawbone's employees" early in 2015 and that some left after downloading details about Jawbone's current and future business plans and products, the story reported. The departing workers then "used thumb drives to download files and used programs to cover their tracks or deleted system logs, according to the court filing."

The Jawbone court filing "quoted an unnamed executive search consultant who reportedly said, 'Fitbit's objective is to decimate Jawbone,'" the story reported.

In a statement received by the Times, Fitbit said it has "no need to take information from Jawbone or any other company" and that it is "unaware of any confidential or proprietary information of Jawbone in our possession and we intend to vigorously defend against these allegations."

Jawbone is seeking both financial damages and relief from the court to prevent the former employees from using the information Jawbone says they took from the company, the story reported.