Back in January, medical device company Masimo levied a lawsuit against Apple, accusing the company of stealing trade secrets and improperly using Masimo inventions related to health monitoring in the Apple Watch.
Masimo is known for its pulse oximetry devices, and Apple just recently debuted the Apple Watch Series 6 with blood oxygen monitoring capabilities. Following the launch of the Series 6, Masimo has accused Apple of attempting to delay the legal proceedings in order to sell more watches and gain a more dominant share of the smart watch market.
As highlighted by Bloomberg, Apple has not officially responded to the original January lawsuit, instead filing requests to dismiss the trade secret part of the case and to have Masimo patents invalidated. Apple has asked the trial court to put the case on hold until the patent issue is resolved, which could take a significant amount of time.
Apple told the court that delaying the case until a patent review will narrow the issues and “reduce wasted resources.” With no hold, the first hearing on the case will take place in April 2021.
According to Masimo, 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 Masimo believes 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 accused Apple of stealing secret information by pretending to have a working relationship with Masimo and then poaching Masimo employees. Masimo also believes that Apple is infringing on 10 Masimo patents, and says that Apple relied on Masimo technology when developing the light-based heart rate sensor used in the Apple Watch.
Apple allegedly contacted Masimo in 2013, ahead of the launch of the original Apple Watch, and asked to meet for a potential collaboration. Apple was aiming to “understand more” about Masimo’s products and was allegedly seeking to add Masimo technology to future Apple devices. Masimo said that the two companies had productive meetings, but then Apple began hiring important employees. Apple ultimately hired several Masimo employees including Michael O’Reilly, who had served as Chief Medical Officer and EVP of Medical Affairs at Masimo. He has been working on Health Special Projects at Apple, and had a hand in the development of the Apple Watch.
Masimo in its original January lawsuit asked the court to block Apple from using Masimo’s patented inventions and it asked the court for damages.