The judge overseeing the antitrust lawsuit that AliveCor filed against Apple back in 2021 on Tuesday filed a summary judgment in Apple’s favor. While the full ruling is under seal, thanks to confidentiality requests from Apple and AliveCor, the filing makes it clear that Apple won this round, and the Apple Watch maker was not found to have engaged in anticompetitive behavior.
AliveCor’s lawsuit claimed that its “SmartRhythm” app for use with its ECG KardiaBand was targeted several times by Apple for App Store rule violations, and was rendered non-functional, thanks to a change to the Apple Watch heart rhythm algorithm with the release of watchOS 5.
watchOS 5 introduced Apple’s heart rate neural network (HRNN) that improved heart rate calculations during workouts. AliveCor claimed that Apple purposely changed the algorithm to affect the KardiaBand, and demanded that Apple continue to support the older, less accurate technology that worked with AliceCor’s app.
AliveCor was seeking damages and an injunction that would require Apple to “cease its abusive conduct” and continue to support the old heart rate algorithm.
Apple responded by arguing that AliveCor did not have the right to dictate Apple’s product decisions and that supporting the older heart rate technology would put the court in the position of being a day-to-day enforcer of how Apple engineers its products. The court agreed with Apple yesterday.
Apple told MacRumors:
“At Apple, our teams are constantly innovating to create products and services that empower users with health, wellness, and life-saving features. AliveCor’s lawsuit challenged Apple’s ability to improve important capabilities of the Apple Watch that consumers and developers rely on, and today’s outcome confirms that is not anticompetitive. We thank the Court for its careful consideration of this case, and will continue to protect the innovations we advance on behalf of our customers against meritless claims.”
AliveCor told MacRumors that it will appeal the court’s decision.
AliveCor is deeply disappointed and strongly disagrees with the court’s decision to dismiss our anti-competition case and we plan to appeal. We will continue to vigorously protect our intellectual property to benefit our consumers and promote innovation. The dismissal decision does not impact AliveCor’s ongoing business; we will continue to design and provide the best portable ECG products and services to our customers.
Separately, the ITC’s findings that Apple has infringed AliveCor’s patents still stand. Both the ITC and U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) appeals will be reviewed at the Federal Circuit in the Northern District of California in the coming months. In other recent developments, the PTAB recently ruled in AliveCor’s favor by instituting Inter Partes Review (IPR) of Apple’s patents and a stay of Apple’s countersuit.
This doesn’t put an end to the legal battle between AliveCor and Apple, as AliveCor has also filed several other patent infringement lawsuits against Apple, claiming that Apple copied its cardiological detection and analysis technology.