District court stays due to ITC connection to Jawbone
California | 07 January 2016

A judge of the US District Court Northern District of California has issued a stay in a patent infringement dispute between rival fitness device makers pending the outcome of a parallel International Trade Commission (ITC) investigation.

In what district court Judge Gilliam Haywood called a “rare policy dilemma” on 31 December, she granted plaintiff Jawbone’s motion for a stay to avoid the “inevitable risk” of inconsistent rulings.

Fitbit accused Jawbone of infringing its patents with fitness trackers in September last year.

Jawbone filed a counterclaim, accusing Fitbit of engaging in anti-competitive misconduct and misappropriating trade secrets. It also asserted patents by lodging a complaint with the ITC, which plans to complete its investigation by the end of this year.

The fitness device maker then moved to stay the patent infringement complaint filed by Fitbit, pending the outcome of the ITC investigation.

Opposing the stay, Fitbit argued that the motion “pertains to a threshold issue that does not require discovery or claim construction”. But the court found Fitbit’s suggestion “unpersuasive”.

“It is beyond reasonable dispute that proceeding with this action at the same time as the ITC action will likely produce a number of factually and legally inconsistent rulings regarding the identical patents at issue,” ruled Judge Haywood.

Author: Tammy Facey

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