The wearable wars just escalated to a new high. Jawbone has sued Fitbit in a California court for recruiting employees who plundered confidential information on their way out. According to the suit, Fitbit recruiters contacted nearly a third of Jawbone’s employees earlier this year and at least some of those employees left for the IPO-bound Fitbit. But before they left, Jawbone contends that some stole sensitive information including product roadmaps and market research.
This lawsuit comes as Fitbit is racing towards an IPO and Jawbone is facing uncertainty following releasing disappointing new products.
Fitbit and Jawbone have long been close competitors in the wearable market. Yet Fitbit has seemed to surge where Jawbone hasn’t. Fitbit’s IPO prospectus cites NPD Group data that states the company has 85 percent of the connected activity tracker market. Jawbone’s latest wearables, which launched months late, are not winning favorable reviews with many earlier users reporting disappointing performance for the price.
Earlier this month Bloomberg revealed that Jawbone had to take out a $300 million loan from Blackrock Investments. The loan, rather than an equity investment, seemed to state that the company’s financials are troubling. Jawbone secured the loan with its current and future licenses, intellectual property, royalties, accounts receivable and revenue from IP or licenses. Jawbone later stated the report is not true and instead says the $300 million in cash came by way of a convertible note.
TechCrunch reached out to both companies for comment.
Jawbone states “Demand for Jawbone’s products are extremely strong, as is the company’s financial health. The company has plenty of cash and an exciting product pipeline. Jawbone and its investors are bullish on its future.”