Apple Sued For Patent Infringement Over ECG Feature on Apple Watch

AliveCor, Inc., a medical device and artificial intelligence company, has alleged that the electrocardiogram (ECG) feature of the Apple Watch smartwatch infringes upon its paents in a a complaint filed in the Western District of Texas.

Two of the patents-in-suit are entitled “Methods and systems for arrhythmia tracking and scoring” while another is entitled “Discordance monitoring.” According to the complaint, “Arrhythmia is a cardiac condition in which the electric activity of the heart is irregular or is faster (tachycardia) or slower (bradycardia) than normal.” The plaintiff asserted that patents-in-suit cover “means and methods of using specialized sensors in a wearable device to improve upon existing cardiac monitoring technology.” These wearable devices now include “the incorporation and coordinated use of photoplethysmography (“PPG”), electrocardiography (“ECG”), and movement sensors in order to collect accurate, real-time cardiac data of the user and compare such data to the expected cardiac data based on the activity level of the user.” .

Apple purportedly infringed at least claim 1 of the ’731 patent “by making, using, selling, and/or offering for sale its Apple Watch Series 4 and later devices with the ECG App (‘Apple Accused Products’) in the United States.”

The plaintiff described the Apple Watch Series 5 as an exemplary product and said Apple claims the smart watch can “detect the presence of an arrhythmia of a user as required by claim 1 of the ’731 Patent.” The complaints cite Apple statements as saying “Your finger can tell you a lot about your heart. Electrodes built into the Digital Crown and the back crystal work together with the ECG app to read your heartʼs electrical signals. Simply touch the Digital Crown to generate an ECG waveform in just 30 seconds. The ECG app can indicate whether your heart rhythm shows signs of atrial fibrillation — a serious form of irregular heart rhythm — or sinus rhythm, which means your heart is beating in a normal pattern.”

Moreover, the plaintiff claimed that Apple’s Apple Watch Series 5 contains a processor, a PPG sensor, an ECG sensor, and a display to display this processed information. Therefore, AliveCor contended that Apple infringed the ’731 patent by utilizing its patented method for arrhythmia and heart rhythm detection and measurement on a wearable device.

The plaintiff has sought declaratory judgment in its favor, for Apple to be enjoined from further infringement, an account of and award for damages, an award for costs and fees, an award for interest, and other relief.

AliveCor is represented by Mann Tindel Thompson and Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP.