Thursday, February 2, 2023

Apple secures patent win in AliveCor heart monitoring tech case

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Apple notched a win against AliveCor, a medical device company that makes personal ECGs, in a long-running battle over wearable heart-monitoring technology.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board on Tuesday determined three AliveCor patents regarding the detection of heart conditions, like cardiac arrhythmias, were unpatentable. The board found the patents were “obvious” following earlier research and technology advancements. 

In late 2020, AliveCor had sued the tech giant, alleging tools included in the Apple Watch Series 4 and later infringed on AliveCor patents. AliveCor had previously launched the KardiaBand, an accessory for the Apple Watch that could record ECGs and alert users of potential abnormalities. It pulled the product in 2019, not long after Apple revealed native ECG features.

AliveCor has also taken the case to the International Trade Commission seeking to bar U.S. sales of Apple Watches due to the alleged patent infringement and filed an antitrust suit. In June, an ITC administrative judge issued an initial determination that Apple violated two of AliveCor’s patents. A final decision is expected next week.

A spokesperson for AliveCor told MobiHealthNews the company would look forward to the separate ITC determination.

“AliveCor is deeply disappointed and strongly disagrees with today’s decision by the PTAB and will appeal the decision. We will continue to vigorously defend and fight to protect our patents for the sake of our customers,” the spokesperson wrote in an email. 

Apple recently filed its own patent suit against AliveCor, saying it wants to “set the record straight as to who is the real pioneer.” In a statement, the tech giant said the PTAB decision should impact the upcoming ITC determination.

“Apple’s teams work tirelessly to create products and services that empower users, including the industry-leading health, wellness and safety features we independently developed and incorporated into Apple Watch,” an Apple spokesperson wrote in an email. “Today’s decision confirms that the patents AliveCor asserted in the ITC against Apple are invalid.”

THE LARGER TREND

Apple has continued to update its wearable, launching the Apple Watch Series 8, a new version of the lower-priced SE and the Ultra this fall. It’s also added new tools via its operating system, including an atrial fibrillation history feature that received FDA 510(k) clearance. 

This summer, AliveCor announced an undisclosed Series F round led by GE Healthcare. It had previously raised $65 million in 2020. The company also launched a credit-card-sized personal ECG and a heart health program for employers, health plans and health systems in 2022.



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