A medical device company that sells electrocardiogram products compatible with mobile devices accused Apple of patent infringement in a lawsuit filed Monday.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based private company, AliveCor, is asking for Apple to pay a "reasonable royalty" or to pay damages to make up for lost profits that AliveCor claims it would have made without Apple's alleged patent infringement. It's also requesting for Apple to cease selling smartwatches that allegedly infringe on its patents.
Apple made waves in the digital health world in 2018 when it unveiled that its new Apple Watch would include an ECG app, marking one of the company's early major moves into healthcare. The ECG app was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration to alert users when it detects irregular heart rhythms, known as arrhythmias, and at the time Apple claimed it was the first FDA-cleared over-the-counter ECG device.
AliveCor contested that claim in the wake of Apple's announcement, noting it had received FDA clearance for similar products as early as 2014.
Last year, AliveCor ended sales of one of its ECG devices, a wristband that paired with the Apple Watch, saying it planned to focus on other products.
Now, AliveCor is suing Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple in a Texas federal court, alleging that the smartwatch-maker has infringed on two of its patents that cover methods for tracking and scoring arrhythmias, as well as a third patent that determines arrhythmia by monitoring whether a user's heart rate is abnormal when compared with their activity level.
"Apple's infringement has damaged and continues to damage AliveCor in an amount yet to be determined," AliveCor's complaint reads.
AliveCor in its complaint alleges that Apple has infringed on its patents by manufacturing and selling the ECG app as part of the Apple Watch, arguing the steps the app completes to detect an arrhythmia—such as its use of photoplethysmography, electrocardiography, movement sensors and artificial intelligence—are too similar to AliveCor's patents.
AliveCor argues that its patents are "novel (and) unconventional" compared to other cardiac-monitoring tools, since they focus on methods to detect intermittent arrhythmia—not just continuous arrhythmia, which are more frequent—using wearable devices equipped with specific sensors, according to the complaint.
AliveCor in its lawsuit is seeking monetary damages from Apple as well as for Apple to stop the alleged infringement on its patents.
Apple did not return a request for comment at deadline.
Apple doesn't break out its earnings for the Apple Watch, but in the company's fiscal 2020 it posted $30.6 billion in sales of wearable, home and accessory products, up 25.1% from the previous year. Wearable, home and accessory products accounted for 11.1% of the company's total $274.5 billion in sales for the year, which is consistently led by the iPhone.