We recently covered the Jawbone lawsuit filed against Fitbit, whereby Jawbone claim that Fitbit headhunted a number of staff members from Jawbone. As part of the filing, Jawbone detailed how a number of former employees had not disclosed that they were leaving to join a competitor and were able to access and download a number of sensitive documents. The lawsuit claimed that these employees accessed documents to store onto portable USB drives and used applications designed to clear system logs in order to hide what they were doing. This all sounds rather secret agent and a little unlikely given that Jawbone is a smaller player in the market compared with Fitbit. This morning, Fitbit have replied with an official statement, which I’m showing below:
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“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. 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.”
Fitbit have more than four fifths of the North American mobile fitness tracker market and a product line up that varies from the simple tracker to the sophisticated smartwatch tracker including advanced personal fitness sensors. Fitbit’s statement is succinct to the point: they’re the biggest and they don’t need information from Jawbone, or indeed anybody else. Furthermore, Fitbit are unaware of any of Jawbone’s information on their systems – this would imply that employees leaving Jawbone took it upon themselves to gather as much information as they could before clearing their desks. Jawbone alleges that Fitbit talked to and encouraged one third of their employees to join Fitbit. Such widespread headhunting drives can happen in any industry and we know Fitbit confirmed this action with Jawbone; however, big businesses know better than to try to poach competitors’ data as well as employees! Jawbone’s lawsuit filing discusses Fitbit’s desire to “decimate” Jawbone, a little hyperbole. To decimate means an action that would impact one in ten.
At this juncture, we do not have any further information and it would be unfair to speculate as to what may have really happened. At this juncture, it appears that the courts will need to decide if Jawbone’s inattention to their internal security gave some employees an opportunity to copy data or they were encouraged to take information with them. It’s possible that the two companies will reach a settlement away from expensive court costs and we will keep you updated as to any new developments.