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Fitbit didn't steal Jawbone trade secrets, ITC judge rules

A finding of trade secret theft could have led to a ban on importation of Fitbit's wearable devices into the US.

Fitbit did not misappropriate Jawbone's trade secrets, a US trade court judge finds.

Dave Cheng/CNET

Wearable-device maker Fitbit did not steal trade secrets from rival Jawbone, a judge for the US International Trade Commission ruled on Tuesday.

Judge Dee Lord, who issued the ruling, concluded that no violation of the Tariff Act occurred because "no party has been shown to have misappropriated any trade secret," according to Reuters. Had a violation of the act been identified, Fitbit could have been prohibited from importing its products and components into the US.

The two wearable-tech companies have in the past year increasingly found themselves at odds not just in the marketplace but the courtroom as well. Jawbone, which makes the Up line of fitness trackers, 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 CEO James Park said he was pleased with the judge's decision.

"From the outset of this litigation, we have maintained that Jawbone's allegations were utterly without merit and nothing more than a desperate attempt by Jawbone to disrupt Fitbit's momentum to compensate for their own lack of success in the market," Park said in a statement.

Jawbone said it would seek a review of Lord's ruling before the full commission and still intends to pursue a broader case against Fitbit in California state court.

"Jawbone is confident it will prevail when the full scope of its claims is heard by the jury," a Jawbone spokeswoman said in a statement.