Lawsuit claims Apple monopolizes heart-rate technology for Apple Watch


FILE PHOTO: An Apple Store employee shows the Series 5 Apple Watch during the preview of the redesigned and reimagined Apple Fifth Avenue store in New York, U.S., September 19, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

(Reuters) - A Silicon Valley company has filed an antitrust lawsuit accusing Apple Inc of cornering the market for heart-rate monitoring technology for the Apple Watch, and endangering wearers' health.

In a complaint filed late on Tuesday night, AliveCor Inc said Apple shut out rivals by changing the heart-rate algorithm on its watch's operating system, making rival technology incompatible.

AliveCor sells KardiaBand, an Apple Watch wristband capable of recording an electrocardiogram, and SmartRhythm, an app that alerts users to irregular heartbeats.

The privately held company accused Apple, whose market value exceeds $2 trillion, of quietly "working in the background" to copy its ability to record an ECG on the Apple Watch, and to provide a separate app for heart-rate analysis.

"As it has done multiple times over the years in other markets, Apple decided that it would not accept competition on the merits," AliveCor said in its complaint filed in San Francisco federal court.

"The value of controlling such critical health data (with the accompanying ability to exploit it) was apparently too much of a temptation for Apple," it added. "To gain an unfair competitive edge, Apple put countless AliveCor users' lives in danger."

Apple did not immediately respond on Wednesday to requests for comment.

The Cupertino, California-based company has apps for taking ECGs, and measuring heart rates at rest or during workouts.

AliveCor is seeking unspecified triple damages, citing Apple's alleged "willful" effort to create a monopoly.

The Mountain View, California-based company in December sued Apple for patent infringement in Texas, and in April asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to ban imports of Apple Watches.

AliveCor is represented by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, a litigation specialist with more than 800 lawyers.

The case is AliveCor Inc v Apple Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 21-03958.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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