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An Apple watch is pictured at the new Apple flagship store at Sanlitun in Beijing, China, July 17, 2020. Photo: SCMP/Simon Song

Apple faces antitrust lawsuit for alleged monopoly in heart-rate technology for the Apple Watch

  • The lawsuit accuses Apple of cornering the market for heart-rate monitoring tech for the Apple Watch, and endangering wearers’ health
  • AliveCor sells an Apple Watch wristband capable of recording an electrocardiogram and an app that alerts users to irregular heartbeats
Apple

A Silicon Valley company has filed an antitrust lawsuit accusing Apple 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 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 US$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.

US kicks off antitrust campaign with suit against Amazon.com

“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 “wilful” effort to create a monopoly.

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

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Apple Watch ‘out of sync’
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