Jawbone has instigated legal action against its competitor Fitbit, accusing the company of luring away its employees, who allegedly took intellectual property with them to the rival company. The five former Jawbone employees headhunted by Fitbit are also defendants in the complaint.
Jawbone and Fitbit are competitors in the fitness tracker market, a growing category which is still being defined by new product features as brands try to establish themselves as the favourite in consumers’ hearts. Being a product designed by be worn 24/7 on the body, minute details can become major distinguishing features.
Jawbone’s parent company Aliphcom filed the complaint on Wednesday in San Francisco Superior Court, just three weeks after Fitbit filed for its Initial Public Offering (IPO). Fitbit denies the allegations saying it doesn’t need to snoop on its rivals.
A copy of the complaint published online alleges Fitbit recruiters contacted 30 per cent of Jawbone’s workforce in early 2015 and five employees left the company with “access to, and intimate knowledge of, key aspects of Jawbone’s business and future direction of the market and its business.”
The former employees allegedly violated Jawbone’s confidentiality agreements with a “carefully orchestrated plan to abscond with reams of proprietary and confidential information regarding the intricacies of Jawbone’s business.”
It is alleged the employees used USBs in their final days of employment at Jawbone to steal company information or forwarded information to personal email addresses for later use.
Jawbone also says it located a product called CCleaner on the computers in question – a tool designed to conceal the forensic footprints of activity on a computer. The company is now seeking to stop any of the allegedly stolen intellectual property being used to weaken Jawbone.
Fitbit responded with a statement denying the allegations.
“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,” the statement reads.
“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.”