In a huge victory for Fitbit in its ongoing battle with Jawbone, the United States International Trade Commission ruled that some of the crucial patents upon which Jawbone’s case rested are invalid. The legal dispute between the two wearables companies comes as Fitbit’s popularity grows and Jawbone’s shrinks. But this discrepancy, Jawbone claims, is due to Fitbit’s poaching of Jawbone employees, who brought valuable trade secrets and designs from their old company. The courts have yet to weigh in on this matter, so Fitbit could still be in some degree of hot water.
The judge’s recent decision means that Fitbit will continue to be able to import its products into the country (they’re not made in the U.S.). According to Judge Dee Lord, the patents in question patents “seek a monopoly on the abstract ideas of collecting and monitoring sleep and other health-related data, and are therefore ineligible.” Fitbit has yet to comment on the ruling, but the company has long been embroiled in legal drama with its competitor.
In a statement following the ruling, Jawbone said, “The two patents that are the subject of the ITC ruling represent only a portion of Jawbone’s case against Fitbit and a small subset of Jawbone’s overall patent portfolio. The court confirmed that Fitbit will face a trial in 10 days on claims it misappropriated Jawbone’s trade secrets.”
There are, of course, other fitness wearables on the market that may pose a bigger threat to both Fitbit and Jawbone’s market share (like the Apple Watch), but these two companies have quite the history with one another. As the Wall Street Journal reports, Jawbone opened a case against Fitbit — also for patent infringement — in San Francisco last year, and Fitbit has levied similar accusations against Jawbone in courts in both San Francisco and Wilmington, Delaware. Both of those cases are still pending.
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