Intellectual Property » Economic Espionage Charges Dropped Against Tech Employees

Economic Espionage Charges Dropped Against Tech Employees

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February 20, 2020

Two fitness tech companies, FitBit and Jawbone, went head to head over the past decade. Jawbone debuted its fitness bracelet in 2011, FitBit came out with one in 2013. FitBit took a bigger market share and had a successful IPO in 2015. Later that year Jawbone accused Fitbit of stealing its intellectual property and violating its patents. Jawbone filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and the case settled. Now prosecutors will drop charges against several former FitBit employees accused of receiving stolen trade secrets from their former employer. They were charged under the Economic Espionage Act, passed by Congress in 1996 to combat state-sponsored industrial espionage. It has mainly been used to prevent foreign countries from stealing secrets from U.S. companies, but it has also been used against employees who leave one U.S. company for another, allegedly taking proprietary information with them. Attorneys who represented former Fitbit employee Ana Rosario, said in a statement that she met with Jawbone’s head of information technology before leaving the company for Fitbit to review her electronic devices and “remove anything Jawbone didn’t want her to have.” Despite that, she was prosecuted, they said, for “stealing documents Jawbone let her keep and documents she didn’t even have.”

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