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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 14, 2018

Six Former And Current Fitbit Employees Indicted For Possessing Multiple Trade Secrets Stolen From Jawbone

SAN JOSE – Six California residents were charged in a federal indictment filed today in San Jose, Calif., for their alleged possession of stolen trade secrets, announced Acting United States Attorney Alex G. Tse and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Spradlin.  The indictment charges each defendant with possession of one or more trade secrets.  The secrets allegedly were stolen from now-defunct San Francisco-based AliphCom, Inc., doing business as Jawbone, after his or her employment with Jawbone ended and the defendant accepted employment with Fitbit, Inc., another San Francisco-based company.  

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. The indictment describes Jawbone as a company that “designed, manufactured, and sold wearable electronic devices, fitness trackers, and wireless speakers in interstate and international commerce.”  The indictment alleges Jawbone’s protected internal computer systems and cloud storage contained trade secrets, 14 of which are described in the indictment.  Similarly, the indictment describes Fitbit as a publically traded company that promotes itself as “design[ing] products and experiences that track and provide motivation for everyday health and fitness.”  

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 his or her offer of employment from Fitbit. 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 Acting U.S. Attorney Tse.  “The theft of trade secrets violates federal law, stifles innovation, and injures the rightful owners of that intellectual property.  This office, together with our law enforcement partners, is committed to protecting the intellectual property rights and economic security of this district.”

“While we live in a free market economy, HSI is committed to ensuring employees are playing fair and within the limits of the law,” said Ryan L. Spradlin, Special Agent in Charge for northern California and northern Nevada. “HSI has devoted more than two years to investigating these allegations of the theft of trade secrets.  HSI considers these types of charges extremely serious, and is dedicated to safeguarding against any illegal corporate practices adversely impacting other businesses.”

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

Each defendant has been charged with one or more counts of possession of stolen trade secrets, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1832(a)(3), as follows:
 

Defendant

 

Defendant

 

Defendant

 

Mogal

six counts

Weiden

one count

Romano

four counts

Rosario

five counts

Narron

two counts

Zhang

two counts

 

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. 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.  However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.  

Assistant U.S. Attorney Amie Rooney is prosecuting the case with assistance from Nina Burney Williams and Elise Etter.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations.

Updated June 18, 2018