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Fitbit Employees Charged With Having Stolen Trade Secrets

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP) -- Federal prosecutors have charged one current and five former employees of San Francisco-based Fitbit, Inc. with possessing trade secrets stolen from rival company Jawbone.

According to Acting United States Attorney Alex G. Tse the indictment charges the six with possession of one or more trade secrets allegedly stolen from the now-defunct San Francisco-based Jawbone. All six are former Jawbone employees.

The indictment charges Katherine Mogal, 52, of San Francisco; Ana Rosario, 33, of Pacifica; Patrick Narron, 41, of Boulder Creek; Patricio Romano, 37, of Calabasas; Rong Zhang, 45, of El Cerrito; and Jing Qi Weiden, 39, of San Jose for being in possession of stolen trade secrets.

According to the indictment, each of the defendants worked for Jawbone for at least one year between May of 2011 and April of 2015, and had signed a confidentiality agreement with the company.

The indictment alleges that in between March 2015 and April 2015, Mogal, Rosario, Narron, and Zhang, while still working for Jawbone, received an offer of employment from Fitbit and within three weeks, each had terminated his or her employment with Jawbone.

Each of these defendants accepted the Fitbit employment offers. Both companies made fitness tracking devices and tussled over patents in court.

Meanwhile, Weiden resigned from Jawbone in March 2014 and began working for Fitbit in November 2014.

According to the indictment, at times in 2014 and 2015, after he or she was no longer employed by Jawbone, each defendant received and possessed one or more of the trade secrets for the economic benefit of someone other than Jawbone.

Further, the indictment alleges each defendant was aware following his or her departure from Jawbone that the trade secrets were stolen and that they were being possessed without authorization.

"Intellectual property is the heart of innovation and economic development in Silicon Valley," said Tse in a prepared release. "The theft of trade secrets violates federal law, stifles innovation, and injures the rightful owners of that intellectual property."

The defendants were scheduled to make an initial appearance on July 9, 2018, at 1:30 p.m. before the U.S. Magistrate Judge Virginia K. DeMarchi.

Mogal was charged with 6 counts, Rosario 5, Romano 4, Narron and Zhang 2 and Weiden a single count.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and $250,000 fine per count, followed by a maximum three years supervised release.

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