Personal electrocardiogram maker AliveCor is seeking to ban U.S. sales of Apple Watches after claims that the tech giant infringed on its patented technology.
The company announced this week it has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission alleging that Apple breached patent laws on three of AliveCor’s patented devices.
AliveCor asserts that Apple knowingly copied its patented technology in an effort to squash it as a market competitor.
Filing the complaint "is one step, among others, AliveCor is taking to obtain relief for Apple's intentional copying of AliveCor's patented technology – including the ability to take an ECG reading on the Apple Watch, and to perform heart rate analysis – as well as Apple's efforts to eliminate AliveCor as competition in the heart rate analysis market for the Apple Watch,” the company said in a statement.
WHAT’S THE IMPACT?
Last December, AliveCor filed a lawsuit against Apple alleging similar patent infringements. The suit argues that the tools included in the Apple Watch Series 4 and later infringe on three patents held by AliveCor.
In addition to Apple halting the alleged infringement, AliveCor sought payment for damages to its company for its attorney fees and for other fees associated with the suit.
AliveCor offers a range of mobile ECG devices for personal use. Its flagship product, KardiaMobile, is a single-lead personal ECG. It launched the KardiaBand in 2017 as an add-on accessory to Apple Watch bands but ended its sales shortly after Apple’s own ECG capabilities went live.
More recently, AliveCor received FDA clearance for the KardiaMobile 6L, a six-lead personal ECG that provides cardiologists with six different perspectives on the heart’s electrical activity. It also launched a subscription service, called KardiaCare, where members get access to a suite of features that help users interpret their heart data, monitor risk factors, identify symptom triggers and measure the impact of lifestyle changes.
Earlier this year, the company added three new heart conditions that its product line can identify, including sinus rhythm with supraventricular ectopy (SVE), sinus rhythm with premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) and sinus rhythm with wide QRS.
THE LARGER TREND
Apple has faced several lawsuits in the past regarding patent infringement. In 2016, heart rate sensor company Valencell sued Apple and Fitbit. The company alleged that Apple stole the technology that powers the heart rate sensor in the Apple Watch, obtaining the technology through insincere partnership overtures and whitepapers downloaded under fake names.
Then in 2018, Omni MedSci filed a lawsuit against the tech giant for infringing on its heart rate monitoring technology.
In addition to the Apple Watch, more consumer wearable companies are adding ECG features to their devices. Fitbit’s ECG app got regulatory clearance in the U.S. and European Union last fall and Samsung updated its Galaxy smartwatches with the capabilities at the start of this year.