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NEWS: Apple locked in court battles with small medtech firms over allegations of stolen technology

  • December 13, 2022

Apple’s move into personal health monitoring through its wearable devices has sparked a wave of legal activity. The addition of cardiac monitoring capabilities to the Apple Watch led AliveCor to sue the company in 2020, setting in motion a set of cases that have seen the International Trade Commission lay the groundwork for a ban on imports of the wearable and the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board rule against AliveCor.  

In parallel, pulse oximetry specialist Masimo has taken Apple to court over other Watch features. The dispute began in 2020, when Masimo filed a trade-secret lawsuit against Apple. Masimo alleges that Apple, working through Masimo’s former employees, misappropriated its trade secrets. Last month, a court ruled in favor of Masimo in an unlawful theft case it filed against an employee that left for Apple

Masimo’s Apple trade secret lawsuit is scheduled to come to trial in March. Masimo followed up with a trade commission complaint last year. The trade decision, which is due early next year, could ban the import of Apple Watches that include technology Masimo says is its own. 

AliveCor’s patent battle against Apple could reach a critical point next week when a U.S. International Trade Commission judge is set to rule in a case that may determine whether Apple watches using what AliveCor claims is its technology will face an import ban.

World’s largest company

“The world’s largest company should not be allowed to escape legal accountability for its pattern of unlawful behavior against smaller competitors,” a spokesperson for the medtech company said. Apple, with projected revenue of $400 billion in 2022, is one of the leading companies in the consumer wearables market, and has been eagerly adding medically-related functionality to its smartwatch, including the ability to detect atrial fibrillation and Parkinson’s Disease

Apple and AliveCor have been embroiled in a legal skirmish since 2021, with AliveCor alleging that Apple violated its patents for a wearable system to detect arrhythmias. Apple recently filed its own patent lawsuit against the company, writing in a complaint that it wanted to “set the record straight” as to who invented the technology. 

The AliveCor ITC decision was originally slated for Monday, but was postponed to Dec. 20. Apple filed an emergency motion with the ITC after the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) found that 30 of AliveCor’s claims were unpatentable.

SOURCE: MedTechDive