Apple must face a lawsuit claiming that it illegally monopolized the U.S. market for heart-rate monitoring apps on the Apple Watch. A California-based federal judge made the ruling on Monday.
AliveCor, which is a company that markets an ECG “KardiaBand” for the Apple Watch, filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple in May 2021. AkiveCor claims Apple changed the heart-rate algorithm for the Apple Watch to gain an “unfair competitive edge” over rivals while endangering the lives of AliveCor users.
AliveCor created the “SmartRhythm” app, which uses data from the Apple Watch’s heart-rate algorithm to determine when a heart rate is irregular and suggest people take an ECG with the KardiaBand.
AliveCor says Apple’s exclusion of third-party heart-rate analysis providers from the Apple Watch has harmed AliveCor and impacted patients and consumers.
AliveCor received FDA approval for the KardiaBand in 2017. Apple unveiled its Apple Watch Series 4 with built-in ECG capabilities and irregular heart rhythm notifications in 2018. AliveCor said Apple observed the success of the KardiBand, and changed the watchOS functionality to sabotage KardiaBand.
Reuters reports that U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White said Monday that AliveCor could try to prove that Apple violated federal antitrust law.
“AliveCor alleges that Apple made changes to the heart rate algorithm that made it effectively impossible for third parties to inform a user when to take an ECG,” or electrocardiogram, White wrote. “Plaintiff’s allegations plausibly establish that Apple’s conduct was anticompetitive.”
However, Judge White dismissed AliveCor’s other claim that Apple maintained an illegal monopoly over ECG-capable smartwatches because AliveCor’s KardiaBand wristband “complements but does not compete” in that market, he said.
Apple and its lawyers are expected to respond to the judgment, but it has not yet done so.