Masimo claims that Apple stole its tech for Apple Watch in new patent suit

Apple Watch Heart Beat
Apple Watch Heart Beat (Image credit: Rene Ritchie/iMore)

What you need to know

  • Masimo Corp. claims Apple stole technology related to health monitoring for use in its Apple Watch.
  • A lawsuit claims Apple acquired secret information "under the guise of a working relationship".
  • It's also accused of hiring away key employees from the firm who were privy to "extremely sensitive information".

Masimo Corp. has filed a lawsuit against Apple in which it claims Apple stole tech relating to health monitoring for use in its Apple Watch.

According to Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. is accused of stealing trade secrets and improperly using Masimo Corp. inventions related to health monitoring in its Apple Watch.Masimo, which develops signal processing technology for health-care monitors, and its spinoff, Cercacor Laboratories Inc., claim in a lawsuit that Apple got secret information under the guise of a working relationship and then hired away key employees, including Michael O'Reilly, who became vice president of Apple's health technology efforts.

The technology specifically relates to using light as a means for monitoring data such as oxygen levels in the blood and heart rate. According to the report Masimo is seeking to block further use of its patented inventions in the Apple Watch Series 4 and 5, as well as the return of confidential information and unspecified damages.

According to the report:

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. Apple said it wanted "to understand more about Masimo's technology to potentially integrate that technology into Apple's products." 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 suit.

A year later Apple also hired Marcelo Lamego, a former Masimo scientist who had "unfettered access" to confidential information. It is also claimed that he started filing patent applications for things he had learned at Masimo, and another company, Cercacor.

"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.

At the very end of 2019, Apple was also sued over its use of technology used to detect atrial fibrillation in users, over claims it infringes a patent held by Dr. Joseph Wiesel, a professor at the New York University School of Medicine.

This latest suit was filed in the U.S. District Court in the Central District for California.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9