Fitbit's six current, ex-staff indicted in Jawbone trade secrets case

FILE PHOTO: The ticker symbol for Fitbit is displayed at the post where it is traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) February 23, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - ​Six former and current employees of Fitbit Inc FIT.N were ​charged in a federal indictment for possessing trade secrets stolen from rival Jawbone, according to a statement from the Department of Justice on Thursday.

The indictment filed in San Jose, California, alleges each defendant was aware that the trade secrets were stolen and that they were being possessed without authorization.

The individuals had all worked for the now-defunct San Francisco-based Jawbone, owned by AliphCom Inc, for at least a year between May 2011 and April 2015, before being employed by Fitbit, it said.

Each of them has been charged with one or more counts of possession of trade secrets and is scheduled to make an initial court appearance on July 9, the DoJ said.

Jawbone sued Fitbit in May 2015, just weeks before the wearable device maker’s IPO, alleging Fitbit engaged in a clandestine effort to steal talent, trade secrets and intellectual property. However, the companies reached a global settlement agreement resolving all outstanding litigation in December 2017.

A Fitbit spokesman responded by pointing to a 2016 case involving the same individuals and said a federal administrative law judge found that “no Jawbone trade secrets were misappropriated or used in any Fitbit product, feature or technology.”

Reporting by Ishita Chigilli Palli in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier