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Medical Device Maker Masimo Claims Apple Delaying Legal Battle to Sell More Apple Watches

Medical Device Maker Masimo Claims Apple Delaying Legal Battle to Sell More Apple Watches

In January, medical device company Masimo filed a lawsuit against Apple, accusing the Apple Watch maker of theft of trade secrets and improper use of Masimo health monitoring inventions in the popular wearable device.

The company, and its spinoff, Cercacor Laboratories Inc., which designs pulse oximetry devices, claims Apple stole secret information from the company by pretending to have a working relationship with Masimo, then poaching Masimo employees. The company says the Apple Watch infringes on 10 Masimo patents.

Among those patents, are those covering ways to measure oxygen levels in blood, and heart rate using light emitters and detectors. The companies are seeking to block any further use of their patented inventions in the Apple Watch Series 4 and Series 5, the return of confidential information and unspecified damages.

The companies claim their technology for non-invasive health monitoring helped Apple resolve performance issues with the Apple Watch. They also allege Apple relied on Masimo technology when developing the light-based heart rate sensor used in the ‌Apple Watch‌, as well as other technologies.

The recently released Apple Watch Series 6 provides blood oxygen monitoring capabilities. Following the launch of the new wearable, Masimo has accused Apple of attempting to delay the legal proceedings to sell more of the devices and gain a dominant position in the smartwatch market. (Wait, doesn’t Apple already have a dominant position? – Ed.) 

Indeed, Apple has not officially responded to the original January lawsuit and has instead filed requests to dismiss the trade secret part of the case and to have Masimo patents invalidated. The Apple Watch maker has asked the trial court to put the case on hold until the patent issue is resolved. It could take quite a long period of time before the patent issue is resolved.

Masimo says the potential postponement would allow Apple to “seize on a critical window of opportunity to capture an emerging field,” using its “considerable resources and ecosystem” to capture market share with no regard for Masimo patent technology.

Masimo CEO Joe Kiani said in the filing that Apple’s customers see the Series 6 as a “medical product,” which can “harm consumers” and “reduce [Masimo’s] opportunities to sell truly clinical-grade products to consumers.”

Masimo says Apple first contacted them in 2013 and asked them to collaborate, with APple’s saying they were seeking to understand more about Masimo’s products, with the possibility of integrating the company’s tech into future Apple devices. Following what Masimo considered productive meetings, Apple began poaching away important Masimo employees.

Masimo says Apple received confidential information from its hires, launching a targeted effort to obtain “information and expertise.”

Apple hired Michael O’Reilly, who had served as the Chief Medical Officer and EVP of Medical Affairs at Masimo. The company also hired Marcelo Lamego, who served as CTO of Cercacor.

Masimo and Cercacor are looking to block further use of their patented technology, and are asking for unspecified damages. The companies are also asking to add their engineers to four patents that were granted to Lamego after he left Cercacor.