As early as January, medical device company Masimo filed a lawsuit against Apple, accusing the company of stealing trade secrets and misusing Masimo’s inventions related to health monitoring in the Apple Watch.
Masimo is known for its pulse oximetry devices, and Apple recently debuted the Apple Watch Series 6 with blood oxygen control capabilities. Following the launch of the Series 6, Masimo accused Apple of trying to delay legal proceedings to sell more watches and gain a more dominant share of the smartwatch market.
As highlighted by Bloomberg, Apple did not formally respond to the original lawsuit in January, but instead filed a motion to dismiss part of the trade secret and to invalidate Masimo’s patents. Apple has asked the trial court to stay the case until the patent issue is resolved, which could take a long time.
Apple told the court that delaying the case while reviewing the patent would narrow the problems and “reduce lost resources.” Without delay, the first hearing in the case will be held in April 2021.
According to Masimo, the potential delay would allow Apple to “take advantage of a critical window of opportunity to capture an emerging field”, using its “significant resources and ecosystem” to capture market share without taking into account Masimo’s patent technology.
Masimo CEO Joe Chiani said in a statement that Masimo believes Apple customers see the Series 6 as a “medical product” that can “harm consumers” and “reduce [Masimo’s] opportunities to sell truly clinical products to consumers. “
Massimo accused Apple of stealing classified information by pretending to have a working relationship with Massimo and then poaching Massimo’s employees. Masimo also believes that Apple infringes 10 Masimo patents, and says Apple relied on Masimo technology to develop a light-based heart rate sensor used in the Apple Watch.
Apple claims to have contacted Masimo in 2013, before the release of the original Apple Watch, and has asked to meet for a potential collaboration. Apple is seeking to “learn more” about Masimo products and says it is trying to add Masimo technology to future Apple devices. Massimo said the two companies had productive meetings, but then Apple began hiring important employees. Eventually, Apple hired several Masimo employees, including Michael O’Reilly, who was chief medical officer and EVP for medical matters at Masimo. He is working on special health projects at Apple and has been involved in the development of the Apple Watch.
In its initial trial in January, Masimo asked the court to block Apple from using Masimo’s patented inventions and asked the court for damages.