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AliveCor loses case claiming ECG patent infringement against Apple

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | December 15, 2022
Artificial Intelligence Business Affairs Cardiology Patient Monitors
AliveCor claims that Apple committed patent infringement against it in the design of its Apple Watch's built-in ECG technology.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has deemed all three of AliveCor’s claims accusing Apple of infringing on its electrocardiogram (ECG) technology “unpatentable.”

AliveCor alleges that Apple Watch's built-in heart-monitoring technology has features similar to sensors used in AliveCor's KardiaBand solutions to monitor irregular heartbeats and help make diagnoses.

But in its December 6 decision, the agency’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) said that a person “of ordinary skill in the art” of making heart-monitoring technologies could construct the same solutions, making AliveCor’s claims too obvious to be patented, reported Reuters.

KardiaBand, a watch band and connected app for the Apple Watch that produces ECG readings for wearers, gained FDA clearance in 2017. A year later, Apple gained clearance for its built-in ECG technology, making KardiaBand no longer needed, which led AliveCor to halt sales.

AliveCor sued in December 2020 for patent infringement. It also filed a separate antitrust case that claims Apple monopolized its own market for Apple Watch heart-monitoring apps in the U.S. It is requesting in all its filings for a U.S. import ban on Apple Watches that infringe on its own ECG technology.

In a statement to HCB News, AliveCor said it “is deeply disappointed and strongly disagrees with the decision” and plans to appeal. “The PTAB decision does not impact AliveCor's ongoing business. We will continue to design and distribute our best-in-class portable ECG products and services to our customers.”

It also plans to continue its ongoing case against Apple that it filed in 2021 with the International Trade Commission over the same claims. It says it is “cautiously optimistic” following the ITC’s initial conclusion in June that said Apple had indeed violated two of the patents.

Should the conclusion be the same in its final decision on December 12, it could potentially lead to an import ban on Apple Watches in the U.S.

Earlier this month, Apple filed a lawsuit accusing AliveCor of infringing on its own patents for innovations in its heart-rate sensing, health data collection and other connected health tools, according to Reuters. It claims that some of those technologies were developed as far back as 2008, before AliveCor was founded in 2011.

AliveCor has called this “a desperate last-ditch effort by Apple to bully AliveCor into submission just days before the ITC decision.”

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