AliveCor, a company that sells 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 in order to gain an “unfair competitive edge” over competitors while endangering the lives of AliveCor users.
According to AliveCor, by excluding third-party heart rate analysis providers from the Apple Watch, Apple has harmed AliveCor and affected patients and consumers. AliveCor developed the SmartRhythm app to go along with the KardiaBand, which uses data from the Apple Watch’s heart-rate algorithm to determine when a heart rate is irregular and suggests people take an ECG using the KardiaBand.
In 2017, the FDA approved the KardiaBand, and in 2018, Apple released the Apple Watch Series 4 with integrated ECG capabilities and its own irregular heart rhythm notifications. According to AliveCor, the KardiaBand’s success prompted Apple to “corner the market for heart rate analysis on the Apple Watch” by altering watchOS’s functions.
According to the latest report from Reuters, an American District Court judge has said that AliveCor can try to prove that Apple violated federal antitrust law because of its “complete control” over the market for such apps.
According to White, “AliveCor claims 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.” According to the plaintiff’s allegations, Apple’s actions were anticompetitive.
It was also dismissed as a ploy by AliveCor to claim that Apple had an illegal monopoly on ECG-capable smart watches by White, who said AliveCor’s KardiaBand wristband “complements but does not compete.”
The judgement has yet to be addressed by Apple and its legal team. An AliveCor patent infringement lawsuit alleging that Apple copied AliveCor’s cardiological detection and analysis technology has been previously filed against Apple. These lawsuits are still pending, but the decision today gives AliveCor the option of suing for damages and/or an injunction to force Apple to end its monopolistic behavior.