In a young, growing and potentially very lucrative market, patents, design rights and reputation matter.  Two of the best-known names in the wearable activity tracking device market, Jawbone and Fitbit, are currently battling each other over allegations of poaching staff, industrial espionage and patent infringement.

Both companies have a loyal user following and have been concentrating on establishing and protecting their businesses by filing for patent and design rights, whilst jealously guarding their technological and strategy planning secrets.

Jawbone accuses Fitbit of Poaching Staff…

Earlier this year, however, Jawbone filed a lawsuit in a California State Court accusing Fitbit of poaching staff and stealing commercially-confidential data.  Jawbone alleged that its rival had approached nearly 30% of its workforce and succeeded in recruiting five people.  Jawbone further alleged that those five people took confidential data on its devices and its business plans to Fitbit when they moved.  It claims that Fitbit chose to poach staff ahead of a planned initial public offering (IPO) in the USA, in order to add more weight to its strategy and to give it access to vital competitor information.

…and of Patent Infringement

Just a few weeks after this suit was filed, Jawbone further accused Fitbit of patent infringement.  It has specified three of its patents that it claims Fitbit has infringed; an accusation that Fitbit has denied vigorously, saying that it has more than 200 patents either issued or in the application process.  It is believed that Jawbone actually has marginally fewer patents than Fitbit, but a significantly larger number of design rights.

As this market develops, both companies want to be the leading name, and much of their future success relies on the innovative and usable nature of the technology; so holding intellectual property rights is a vital part of the business strategy for both firms.  Neither has had a smooth ride so far, and both are under financial pressure as well as technical pressure.  Commentators are wondering whether the real value in this market lies not in the sale of the devices to consumers, but in the sale to third parties of the data the devices produce about those consumers.

Patent Advice from SH&P

Protecting your intellectual property can help you to gain a market advantage, and may also prove a potentially lucrative revenue stream if you choose to grant a licence to third parties.  Whatever your business plans and however small or large your business, our patent attorneys can give you the right advice.  We work across technology sectors and with everyone from new inventors to international organisations.  Your first hour with us is completely free, so why not book an appointment today?