Apple beats Alivecor claims of anticompetitive heart rate rhythm update

A win for Apple - but the battle over patent infringement wages on
Wareable Apple Watch Alivecor antitrust ruling
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The antitrust lawsuit brought by AliveCor back in 2021 against Apple won't go any further, with a judge finding that Cupertino company didn't engage in anticompetitive behavior. 

The startup claimed that its 'SmartRhythm' app that worked with its proprietary ECG KardiaBand was targeted by Apple for App Store violations, and then rendered useless by a change to Apple's heart rhythm algorithm way back in watchOS 5. 

Though the full ruling is sealed due to confidentiality requests from both sides, with only a redacted version being made available in the coming weeks, the summary judgment confirms Apple is in the clear regarding the allegations. 

Apple argued that the introduction of its Heart Rate Neural Network (HRNN) in 2018 improved heart rate calculations in workouts, and that Alivecor didn't have the right to influence design decisions.

It also suggested that Alivecor's request to support older technology - the Heart Rate Path Optimizer - would require the court to become a constant passthrough for Apple's engineering process.

Alivecor, on the other hand, contested that the changes were designed to prevent third parties from identifying irregular rhythms, and, thus, eliminated the ability for consumers to choose.

Ultimately, the court disagreed with Alivecor. 

In a statement, Apple said: "AliveCor's lawsuit challenged Apple's ability to improve important capabilities of the Apple Watch that consumers and developers rely on, and today's outcome confirms that is not anticompetitive."

Alivecor, meanwhile, said it will appeal the court's decision. 

"AliveCor is deeply disappointed and strongly disagrees with the court's decision to dismiss our anti-competition case and we plan to appeal. We will continue to vigorously protect our intellectual property to benefit our consumers and promote innovation. The dismissal decision does not impact AliveCor's ongoing business; we will continue to design and provide the best portable ECG products and services to our customers."

The startup also referred to its separate patent infringement claims against Apple - ones that claim the company copied its cardiological detection and analysis features. These will be fought in the courts over the coming months, Alivecor says.

So, while this is certainly a win for Apple - and a much-needed one following the ongoing ban relating to its blood oxygen technology - it's not seen the back of Alivecor just yet.

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Conor Allison


Conor moved to Wareable Media Group in 2017, initially covering all the latest developments in smartwatches, fitness trackers, and VR. He made a name for himself writing about trying out translation earbuds on a first date and cycling with a wearable airbag, as well as covering the industry’s latest releases.

Following a stint as Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint, Conor returned to Wareable Media Group in 2022 as Editor-at-Large. Conor has become a wearables expert, and helps people get more from their wearable tech, via Wareable's considerable how-to-based guides. 

He has also contributed to British GQ, Wired, Metro, The Independent, and The Mirror. 

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