Apple to Face Claims it Bars Third-Party Heart-Rate App Functionality on Apple Watch

Apple must face claims it illegally monopolized the U.S. market for heart-rate monitoring apps on Apple Watch, a California-based federal judge said on Monday.

Kardia Band apple watch
AliveCor, a company that that markets an ECG "KardiaBand" for the Apple Watch, filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple in May 2021 accusing the Cupertino company of changing the heart-rate algorithm for the Apple Watch to gain an "unfair competitive edge" over rivals while endangering the lives of AliveCor users.

According to AliveCor, Apple's decision to exclude third-party heart-rate analysis providers from the Apple Watch has harmed AliveCor and impacted patients and consumers. To go along with the KardiaBand, AliveCor created the SmartRhythm app, which uses data from the Apple Watch's heart-rate algorithm to determine when a heart rate is irregular and suggest people take an ECG with the KardiaBand.

The KardiaBand received FDA approval in 2017, and in 2018, Apple debuted the Apple Watch Series 4 with built-in ECG capabilities and its own irregular heart rhythm notifications followed. AliveCor claims that Apple saw the success of the KardiaBand and changed the functionality of watchOS to sabotage KardiaBand and "corner the market for heart rate analysis on Apple Watch."

According to the latest report from Reuters, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White said Monday that AliveCor could try to prove that Apple violated federal antitrust law based on its alleged "complete control" over the market for such apps.

"AliveCor alleges that Apple made changes to the heart rate algorithm that made it effectively impossible for third parties to inform a user when to take an ECG," or electrocardiogram, White wrote. "Plaintiff's allegations plausibly establish that Apple's conduct was anticompetitive."

However, White dismissed AliveCor's separate claim that Apple maintained an illegal monopoly over ECG-capable smart watches, because AliveCor's KardiaBand wristband "complements but does not compete" in that market, he said.

Apple and its lawyers have yet to respond to the judgement. AliveCor has previously filed several patent infringement lawsuits against Apple, alleging that Apple copied AliveCor's cardiological detection and analysis technology. Those lawsuits have not yet been resolved, while today's judgement allows AliveCor to seek damages and pursue the possibility of an injunction that would require Apple to cease its perceived monopolistic conduct.

Popular Stories

Apple Intelligence General Feature

Apple Intelligence Features Not Coming to European Union at Launch Due to DMA

Friday June 21, 2024 9:44 am PDT by
Apple today said that European customers will not get access to the Apple Intelligence, iPhone Mirroring, and SharePlay Screen Sharing features that are coming to the iPhone, iPad, and Mac this September due to regulatory issues related to the Digital Markets Act. In a statement to Financial Times, Apple said that there will be a delay as it works to figure out how to make the new...
iOS 18 on iPhone Feature

Everything New in iOS 18 Beta 2

Monday June 24, 2024 12:52 pm PDT by
Apple today released the second betas of iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 to developers, and the software adds support for new features that Apple is working on, plus it tweaks some of the interface changes that have been made in the updates. Apple will refine iOS 18 over the course of the next few months, with multiple changes and refinements expected from now until September. We've highlighted...
Apple WWDC24 Apple Intelligence hero 240610

Apple Explains iPhone 15 Pro Requirement for Apple Intelligence

Wednesday June 19, 2024 4:48 am PDT by
With iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia, Apple is introducing a new personalized AI experience called Apple Intelligence that uses on-device, generative large-language models to enhance the user experience across iPhone, iPad, and Mac. These new AI features require Apple's latest iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models to work, while only Macs and iPads with M1 or later chips will...
amazon echo dot

Amazon Could Charge Up to $10/Month for Alexa

Friday June 21, 2024 2:55 pm PDT by
Apple competitor Amazon is working on a revamp of its Alexa assistant, and the new version could cost up to $10 per month, according to a report from Reuters. The upcoming version of Alexa will support conversational generative AI, and Amazon is planning for two tiers of service. There will be a free tier and a second, premium tier that is priced at $5 at a minimum, with Amazon considering...
top stories 22jun2024

Top Stories: Apple Watch X Rumors, New Final Cut App for iPhone, and More

Saturday June 22, 2024 6:00 am PDT by
The avalanche of news coming out of WWDC earlier this month is finally starting to slow, but that doesn't mean there wasn't still lots to talk about in Apple news and rumors this week. This week saw some additional rumors about the upcoming Apple Watch models, the release of major Final Cut Pro updates, the launch of Apple's annual Back to School promo in the U.S. and Canada, new...

Top Rated Comments

RadioHedgeFund Avatar
30 months ago
In other news:

Shell have announced they are sueing Tesla for making their cars run on electricity, thereby cutting Petroleum companies off from the fuel market. A Shell press release stated, "By making their automobiles charge exclusively by electricity, often from their own charge points Tesla makes it impossible for Petroleum companies to access that marketplace, effectively monopolising the fuel marketplace."
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bartmoss Avatar
30 months ago
1. Create something. Doesn't matter what.
2. Sue Apple for any reason.
3. Hope Apple settles your nuisance lawsuit.
4. Profit
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PutTheFBackIn Avatar
30 months ago
I wonder if Apple’s legal team will wear Apple Watches to the hearings.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SoldOnApple Avatar
30 months ago
I'm glad Facebook can't monitor for changes in my heart rate when I'm browsing posts.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MauiPa Avatar
30 months ago
So, "you make a product, I have a fundamental right to use my product with yours" Does that some it up? Does alivecor allow Apple Watch and apple products on what it makes?

I wish someone would intelligently describe the reason why any manufacturers would be required to work with any other company's products, barring a contract of course. I mean I can clearly see the appeal of it, but the legal requirement? Does my Kindle have to work with other book stores? Can we sue TV manufacturers that don't allow Airplay and Google play and Roku streaming?
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LeeW Avatar
30 months ago
My only view on this is that it is an Apple device with its own specific monitoring system and software. Not really about a monopoly but holding Apple to account for their specific device/software. I would be wary about a 3rd party trying to use it.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)