Lawsuit alleges Apple stole technology for use in its Apple Watch and poached key members of staff from Masimo and Cercacor Labs
Apple has been accused of stealing trade secrets and poaching key staff, after being slapped with a patent infringement lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that Apple stole health monitoring tech that belonged to Masimo, a firm that develops signal processing technology for healthcare monitors, Bloomberg reported.
Apple launched its Watch devices back in 2014, and in September 2019 the firm launched the Apple Watch Series 5 with the “always on” display. During the launch event Apple heavily touted the health and life-saving capabilities of its new wearable device.
Essentially, Masimo ( and its spinoff, Cercacor Laboratories) accuses Apple in its lawsuit of stealing trade secrets and infringing on 10 patents, with the iPad maker apparently gaining secret information under the guise of a working relationship.
Among the 10 patents Apple is accused of infringing are ones covering ways to measure oxygen levels in blood, and heart rate using light emitters and detectors.
And the lawsuit also alleges that Apple hired away key employees, including Michael O’Reilly, who became vice president of Apple’s health technology efforts.
Apple contacted Masimo in 2013 and asked to meet for a potential collaboration, according to the complaint filed in federal court in Santa Ana, California, Bloomberg reported.
Apple said it wanted “to understand more about Masimo’s technology to potentially integrate that technology into Apple’s products,” Masimo said.
After what Masimo thought were productive meetings, Apple instead hired O’Reilly, who was then Masimo’s chief medical officer and was “privy to extremely sensitive information,” according to the lawsuit.
To make matters worse, a year later Apple also hired Marcelo Lamego, who was Cercacor’s chief technology officer and a former Masimo scientist.
Bloomberg reported that Lamego had “unfettered access” to confidential technical information and, shortly after starting work at Apple, began pursuing patent applications for things that he learned at the companies.
Apple knew it was getting confidential information from the two men, the companies allege in their lawsuit.
“Given what appeared to be a targeted effort to obtain information and expertise from Masimo and Cercacor, Masimo and Cercacor warned Apple about respecting their rights,” the companies said in the complaint.
The two firms are seeking a court order to ban further use of their patented inventions in the Apple Watch 4 and 5, and the lawsuit is also seeking the return of confidential information and unspecified damages.
Apple didn’t immediately return queries seeking comment, Bloomberg reported.
Meanwhile Apple is also facing another lawsuit concerning its Watch device.
In December 2019, a a New York cardiologist filed a lawsuit, in which he alleged that Apple owes him royalties on the Watch feature that provides notifications of an irregular heartbeat.
Apple has also been fighting another patent infringement challenge from the University of Wisconsin for a number of years now.
But while that battle was also a patent dispute, it involves the processor technology found in older iPhones and iPads.
In October 2019 the US Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge by the University of Wisconsin’s patent licensing arm, after a US court had earlier overturned a 2015 court ruling in favour of the university.
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