Masimo Sues Apple Over Health-Tracking Watch Technology

Health technology company Masimo, and its close collaborator Cercacor, sued Apple on January 9th alleging stolen trade secrets and 10 instances of patent infringement related to Apple’s watch products.

The complaint, filed in the Central District of California Southern Division, recounts how Masimo believes Apple stole the information necessary to improve its Series 4 and 5 Apple Watches by hiring Masimo’s Chief Medical Officer, Michael O’Reilly, and former Masimo scientist and Cercacor Chief Technology Officer Marcelo Lamego.

The innovations at the center of the suit are Signal Extraction Technology (SET) pulse oximetry tools developed by Masimo and Cercacor. The technique uses light rays to measure pulse rates and the oxygen content of blood by contacting a person’s skin. The plaintiffs claim that Masimo is responsible for greatly improving the “reliability of monitoring and reporting physiological signals” using light technology, and that Apple illegally used confidential information to improve the reliability of health monitors deployed in late series Apple watches, which contain light sensors located on the back of the watch casing.

Masimo recounts how Apple first contacted the company in 2013 seeking to collaborate on tech for Apple products. The parties entered into a confidentiality agreement, and later that year Apple hired O’Reilly, followed by Lamego in 2014.

Lamago then “pursued on behalf of Apple numerous patent applications on technologies he was intimately involved in at Plaintiffs Cercacor and Masimo, and with which he had no prior experience or knowledge.” Despite Masimo’s allegations, O’Reilly and Lamego are not named as defendants in the complaint.

Masimo seeks the return of confidential information, that Apple discontinue use of the patented technology in its products, and unspecified damages.

The case comes before District Judge David O. Carter, who previously presided over the high dollar trade secret case Mattel v. MGA Entertainment in 2011.