War of the wearables: Jawbone sues Fitbit ahead of IPO

Lynsey Barber
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The war of the wearables is heating up (Source: Getty)

The war of the wearables has just been taken up a notch after two of the leading companies pioneering the technology have become involved in a legal dispute.

Jawbone, the maker of the UP fitness tracker band, has filed a lawsuit in a California court alleging rival Fitbit, which also makes health tracking devices, stole information and data about the company by poaching staff.

"This case arises out of the clandestine efforts of Fitbit to steal talent, trade secrets and intellectual property from its chief competitor,” lawyers for Jawbone have claimed in the filing, the New York Times reports.

The lawsuit's timing couldn't be worse for Fitbit, which is about to embark on a $100m (£65m) IPO on the New York Stock Exchange.

The lawsuit names five former Jawbone employees alongside Fitbit. It claims staff took confidential data from Jawbone to Fitbit using USB devices.

It alleges a recruiter approached nearly a third of Jawbone's staff and one executive search consultant is reported to have said “Fitbit’s objective is to decimate Jawbone”.

Jawbone, which recently raised $300m in funding from investment firm Blackrock, is seeking compensation and to prevent former employees from disclosing any commercially sensitive information.

“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. We are unaware of any confidential or proprietary information of Jawbone in our possession and we intend to vigorously defend against these allegations,” Fitbit said in a statement to the newspaper.

The eight-year-old Fitbit has pioneered wearable technology and helped popularise fitness tracking devices which monitor areas of people's lives such as exercise and sleep.

It's a trend that industry giants such are now eager to jump on - not least Apple with the Apple Watch. It's launch this year is expected to kickstart wearables into the mainstream, with the market expected to be worth billions of pounds in the coming years.

According to Fitbit's IPO filing, it sold 10.9m devices in 2014 while revenue grew to $337m in the first quarter of this year. The company claims to be the biggest seller of activity tracking devices in the US.

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