Fitbit drops case to block Jawbone imports to US

December 25, 2016


Fitbit has withdrawn a year-old patent complaint filed with the US International Trade Commission that sought a ban on the import of Jawbone’s fitness tracker into the US.

Fitbit, also a fitness tracker maker, told the ITC in a Friday filing that it’s no longer pursing patent claims against Jawbone because its rival appears to be in financial turmoil.

Jawbone appears to be a different company than it was when Fitbit filed its complaint in November 2015, Friday’s filing said.

“It no longer offers for sale any of its wearable activity trackers, nor any of its other products,” the filing said. “Press reports and other public documents indicate that the demise of Jawbone’s products has created substantial questions regarding Jawbone’s ability to continue to operate.”

In the third quarter, Jawbone’s share of the wearables market was too small to register, according to market researcher IDC, while Fitbit captured nearly a quarter of sales. However, Jawbone, which makes the Up line of fitness trackers, also makes other devices like wireless speakers and headphones.

Friday’s filing, which addressed patents for a heart-rate monitor and a system that monitors physical activity, might signal a simmering of tensions between the two companies, which have been at legal odds for the past year.

Jawbone filed three lawsuits in two months in 2015 against Fitbit, claiming that Fitbit strategically lured away its employees to gain knowledge of key trade secrets, including its upcoming product lineup, information about its supply chain and financial data.

Fitbit reportedly has two other pending patent-infringement cases against Jawbone, filed in San Francisco and Wilmington, Delaware.

Jawbone did not immediately respond to a CNET’s request for comment but told Recode that it plans to move forward with the trade secret case in California state court in 2017.

“Jawbone believes this case — involving patents already found once to be invalid — should have been dismissed long ago by Fitbit,” Jawbone told Recode and other news outlets.

Fitbit declined to comment beyond the filing.

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