Jawbone and Fitbit clearly do not like each other and the acrimony has erupted into a series of lawsuits between the two activity tracker manufacturers. The latest action is a counterclaim leveled by Jawbone against Fitbit alleging Fitbit’s patent lawsuit is frivolous. According to Jawbone’s filing, “Fitbit is knowingly and willfully misusing its patents as part of its efforts to protect its market power…The infringement allegations in both lawsuits are plainly meritless, and Fitbit had no reasonable basis for bringing either case.”
Jawbone’s response is part of one of four separate legal actions currently underway between the two companies. Jawbone has filed three actions, with two of those naming Fitbit directly and another indirectly pulling Fitbit in. Jawbone initially started their legal pursuits with a claim that former employees had taken confidential information constituting trade secrets. Although Fitbit is not directly named in that action, the employees who committed the alleged theft of intellectual property were hired by Fitbit.
Jawbone also has a lawsuit alleging patent infringement against Fitbit using patents they acquired from a company called BodyMedia. Finally, Jawbone has complained to the International Trade Commission seeking an injunction of Fitbit products based on patent infringements.
Meanwhile, Fitbit has filed their own patent infringement lawsuit against Jawbone concerning five of Jawbone’s devices and their software and user interfaces.
Those watching the case have noted that Jawbone seems to have a propensity for filing actions close in time to when Fitbit is preparing to release financial information. For example, the stolen trade secrets action was initiated as Fitbit was preparing to launch their IPO. This latest counterclaim comes as Fitbit is preparing to release financial results for the last quarter. Although both companies are relatively small, Fitbit with a market cap of $8.4 billion appears to be in a better position than Jawbone which continues to rely on private investors. The two companies are in a race to try to secure a solid foothold in the market before bigger players like Apple, Microsoft and Samsung move in.