(Bloomberg) — Apple Inc. is accused of stealing trade secrets and improperly using Masimo Corp. inventions related to health monitoring in its Apple Watch.
In a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court, Masimo, which develops signal processing technology for health-care monitors, and its spinoff, Cercacor Laboratories Inc., claims Apple got secret information under the guise of a working relationship and then hired away Masimo employees. The suit claims Apple infringes 10 Masimo patents.
Masimo and Cercacor said their technology for non-invasive monitoring was key to Apple overcoming performance issues with its Watch. Among those are ways to measure oxygen levels in blood and heart rate using light emitters and detectors.
Apple contacted Masimo in 2013 and asked to meet for a potential collaboration, according to the complaint filed in federal court in Santa Ana, California. Apple said it wanted “to understand more about Masimo’s technology to potentially integrate that technology into Apple’s products,” Masimo said.
After what Masimo thought were productive meetings, Apple instead began hiring key employees, including Masimo’s chief medical officer and Cercacor’s chief technology officer. Apple knew it was getting confidential information from the two men, the companies said.
“Given what appeared to be a targeted effort to obtain information and expertise from Masimo and Cercacor, Masimo and Cercacor warned Apple about respecting their rights,” the companies said in the complaint.
Masimo and Cercacor also are seeking to add their engineers to four patents that were issued to the former Cercacor technology officer, saying he learned of the ideas while at the company and not from his own research. That would make Masimo and Cercacor owners, or at least joint owners, of four patents currently assigned to Apple.
The companies are seeking orders that would block further use of their patented inventions, return of confidential information and unspecified damages.
The case is Masimo Corp. v. Apple Inc., 20-48, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (Santa Ana).
(Updates with details from the lawsuit beginning in third paragraph.)
–With assistance from Mark Gurman.
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