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Masimo claims Apple stole trade secrets, poached employees for Apple Watch

Medical technology company Masimo has filed a lawsuit against Apple for allegedly infringing on 10 patents and stealing trade secrets for the Apple Watch.

The lawsuit, filed with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, accuses Apple of acquiring secret information “under the guise of a working relationship” with Masimo. Apple allegedly reached out to Masimo in 2013, before the launch of the first Apple Watch, regarding a potential collaboration, as the iPhone maker wanted to learn more about Masimo’s technologies and possibly integrate them into a then-unreleased product.

In the filing, Masimo said that it pioneered non-invasive physiological monitoring methods using only transmitted light to track pulse rates, arterial oxygen saturation, and other parameters.

In 2014, Apple started hiring integral Masimo figures, including Michael O’Reilly, former Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, and Marcelo Malini Lamego, Chief Technology Officer for Cercacor, a spin-out of Masimo. The medical technology company said that Apple received confidential information from the poached employees.

Masimo claims that the Apple Watch, including the latest Series 4 and Series 5 models, infringes upon its patents, specifically the device’s health features such as heart rate monitoring. Apple allegedly used Masimo’s non-invasive health monitoring technology to overcome the Apple Watch’s performance issues, including for the development of the device’s light-based heart rate sensor.

Masimo and Cercacor warned Apple of possible legal violations, but it continued to pursue patent applications covering topics for which they already acquired patents.

Masimo is seeking an injunction against the Apple Watch’s Series 4 and Series 5, damages for patent infringement and the stolen trade secrets, and court fees, among other remunerations. It also wants certain of its engineers to be added to four patents granted to Lamego after he left Cercacor.

Masimo, behind the Masimo iSpO2 Pulse Oximeter that is one of Digital Trends’ best fitness gadgets for 2019, is not the only victim of alleged patent infringement with the Apple Watch. In December 2019, Dr. Joseph Wiesel, a cardiologist who teaches at the New York University School of Medicine, sued Apple for refusing negotiations in good faith after he showed how the Apple Watch infringed on his patent for detecting atrial fibrillation.

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