Fitbit has withdrawn a year-old patent complaint filed with the US International Trade Commission that sought a ban on the import of Jawbone’s fitness tracker into the US.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 is an American company headquartered in San Francisco, California, known for its products of the same name, which are activity trackers, wireless-enabled wearable technology devices that measure data such as the number of steps walked, heart rate, quality of sleep, steps climbed, and other personal metrics involved in fitness.
Jawbone on the other hand is also an American privately held consumer technology and wearable products company headquartered in San Francisco, California. It develops and sells wearable technology such as wristbands and portable audio devices, wireless speakers, Bluetooth headsets, and related technology. Jawbone markets its wearable products as part of the Internet of things.
The on-going legal saga between Jawbone and Fitbit seems to be simmering down.
As Fitbit, 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.
“By dismissing this action, Fitbit is no longer seeking to block importation of Jawbone devices, including Jawbone products in development. Jawbone believes this case – involving patents already found once to be invalid – should have been dismissed long ago by Fitbit. Fitbit’s pursuit of these baseless claims for so long was to burden Jawbone – an issue to be raised in Jawbone’s antitrust claim against Fitbit. Jawbone’s trade secret case in California state court against Fitbit will move forward to a jury trial in 2017.”
But this latest development should not really be seen as a victory for Jawbone. As its more the case, that Fitbit no longer sees it as a worthy opponent. The two companies have experienced contrasting fortunes this year. Fitbit has retained its leading share of the wearables market accounting for around a quarter of all global shipments. Jawbone did not make it into the top five rankings.
“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.”
We have not seen a new fitness tracker from the San Francisco outfit for more than 12 months now, and there has been no shortage of news reports that Jawbone is about to close up shop. The company’s own website suggests that Jawbone is running low on stock. Some of its trackers are entirely sold out, and for others there is only a limited supply left.
Some reports suggest that, Jawbone CEO Hosain Rahman is seeking investment from an Asian company to keep the company going for another year. It is apparently working on a medical-grade sensor that will be used in the medical field rather than for consumers.
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.
This means that inspite of the end of this specific battle, the on-going legal saga between the two San Francisco companies continues. Several suits are still on-going, including Jawbones own case against Fitbit for trade secret misappropriation which will be headed to trial in 2017.