US Trade Judge Clears Fitbit of Stealing Jawbone’s Trade Secrets

US Trade Judge Clears Fitbit of Stealing Jawbone's Trade Secrets
  • Jawbone Accused Fitbit of infringing six patents and poaching employees
  • Two of the patents were withdrawn and four others were invalida
  • Fitbit CEO said Jawbone’s allegations were without merit

Fitbit did not steal rival Jawbone’s trade secrets, a US International Trade Commission judge ruled on Tuesday, dashing Jawbone’s hopes of securing an import ban against Fitbit’s wearable fitness tracking devices.

The judge, Dee Lord, said that there had been no violation of the Tariff Act, which gives the commission the power to block products that infringe US intellectual property, because “no party has been shown to have misappropriated any trade secret.”

The ruling means Jawbone comes away with nothing from a complaint it filed with the trade agency in July 2015, accusing Fitbit of infringing six patents and poaching employees who took with them confidential data about Jawbone’s business, such as plans, supply chains and technical details.

Two of the patents were withdrawn, however, and four others were invalidated by the judge, before a May trial that was limited to the trade secrets claims.

Fitbit Chief Executive Officer James Park said in a statement on Tuesday that Jawbone’s allegations were without merit and an attempt “to disrupt Fitbit’s momentum to compensate for their own lack of success in the market.”

A representative for Jawbone could not immediately be reached for comment.

Fitbit is biggest maker of wrist-based and clippable fitness devices, which track users’ steps, calories burned, heartrates and other parameters. It sold 5.7 million devices in the second quarter, beating revenue estimates.

Jawbone makes a range of activity trackers under the UP brand but has been losing market share. It is no longer among the top five wearables vendors, according to market research firm International Data Corp.

Tuesday’s ruling comes on the heels of a victory for Jawbone in a separate trade case filed against the company by Fitbit. On July 19, another commission judge found all three Fitbit patents in that case were invalid. Fitbit has asked the full trade commission to review the ruling.

Jawbone first sued Fitbit last year over trade secret violations in California state court, where the case is still pending. The companies, both based in San Francisco, are also litigating over patents in federal court.

The case in the US International Trade Commission is, In the Matter of Certain Activity Tracking Devices, Systems and Components, No. 337-963.

Mobileye, Delphi Partner to Develop Turnkey Self-Driving Car System

Mobileye, Delphi Partner to Develop Turnkey Self-Driving Car System

Israeli technology firm Mobileye and UK-based auto-equipment maker Delphi said Tuesday that they were teaming up to develop an autonomous driving system which would be ready for vehicle-makers in 2019.

A joint statement by the two companies said that Mobileye’s vision and sensor systems would combine with Delphi’s automated driving software to create what it called “the market’s first turnkey Level 4/5 automated driving solution.”

The US-based Society of Automotive Engineers defines level 4 as “High Automation” in all but the most adverse driving conditions and level 5 as “Full Automation” “under all roadway and environmental conditions that can be managed by a human driver.”

Last month, German car maker BMW announced that it was joining forces with Mobileye and US computer chip giant Intel on a self-drive project, also for “highly and fully automated driving” to be commercially available by 2021.

There is growing interest in self-driving cars following tests over the past few years by Google and research by several major automakers.

But on July 1, US electric car company Tesla announced that a driver was killed in a car crash in Florida in May while using the “autopilot” self-driving mechanism on one of its models.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it had opened a “preliminary evaluation” into the performance of the autopilot function in the wake of the crash.

A major study released earlier this month said the looming arrival of self-driving vehicles is likely to vastly reduce traffic fatalities, but also poses difficult moral dilemmas.

Scientists said autonomous driving systems will require programmers to develop algorithms to make critical decisions that are based more on ethics than technology, such as whether to sacrifice a driver or passenger rather than pedestrians.

Mobileye describes itself as the “global leader in the development of computer vision and machine learning, data analysis, localisation and mapping for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems and autonomous driving.”

Delphi says it is “a world leader in automated driving software, sensors and systems integration.”