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Jawbone sues Fitbit for 'systematically plundering' confidential data

Jawbone's Up3.

Jawbone is suing rival fitness tracker maker Fitbit, accusing the latter of "systematically plundering" corporate secrets by hiring Jawbone workers who smuggled sensitive data before exiting the company.

The case was filed Wednesday in the California State Court in San Francisco, according to the New York Times. In the complaint, Fitbit recruiters are alleged to have contact almost a third of Jawbone staff early in 2015. Some of the people who left are claimed to have used USB thumb drives to save data about Jawbone's current and future plans, and then deleted system logs and/or used apps to cover their tracks.

A given example is Ana Rosario, who Jawbone said Fitbit hired as a user experience researcher on April 16. The complaint states that Rosario didn't announce her intention to leave Jawbone until April 22, and that on April 20, she attended a meeting with the firm's senior director of product management to discuss future plans and downloaded a "playbook" of future Jawbone products.

In an exit interview Rosario initially denied taking confidential data but later admitted to having a copy of a "Market Trends & Opportunities" presentation.

In another example, audio specialist Patrick Narron was said to have given his two-week notice on April 8 saying we has leaving for another job, but without mentioning it was Fitbit. Narron purportedly emailed himself confidential data several times.

On April 17, Fitbit's chief people officer called Jawbone and acknowledged poaching without mentioning any data theft. In statements made to the Times, Fitbit denied any wrongdoing and promised to "vigorously" defend itself. Jawbone is asking the court for financial compensation and measures to prevent its ex-employees from using the stolen data.

Fitbit is on the verge of an initial public stock offering, which the Jawbone lawsuit could potentially harm. Jawbone has meanwhile been having problems of its own, including production issues which delayed the launch of its Up3 fitness band. It has also yet to turn a profit, although it did recently raise $300 million in funding.