Apple vs. Masimo court battle ends in mistrial; jury 6-1 for Apple
The Apple vs. Masimo court battle has ended in a mistrial, after six of the jurors found that Apple had not stolen trade secrets to create the O2 sensor in the Apple Watch – but the seventh juror disagreed.
The judge had already rejected half of Masimo’s patent infringement claims before handing the rest of them to the jury to decide…
The story so far
Way back in 2013, Apple reportedly contacted medical tech company Masimo, as it was interested in forming a “working relationship” with the company. Following meetings in which details of Masimo’s pulse oximeter technology were discussed, Apple is said to have begun poaching the company’s staff.
One 2013 hire, confirmed at the beginning of 2014, was Masimo’s chief medical officer, Dr. Michael O’Reilly.
In 2020, Masimo filed a lawsuit officially accusing Apple of stealing trade secrets, and infringing 10 of the company’s patents, in the O2 sensor in the Apple Watch.
The dispute between the two companies escalated later the same year, when the Apple Watch Series 6 was launched with a new blood oxygen detection feature. Masimo asked the US International Trade Commission to ban imports of the new model.
That attempt failed, but earlier this year a court ruled that Apple had indeed infringed one of the 10 patents. The Cupertino company is trying to have the decision overturned, with a final ruling expected next month. Apple also hit back, accusing Masimo of making an Apple Watch clone.
A report last month claimed that Apple paid Masimo’s chief medical officer millions of dollars in stock to poach him.
Apple vs. Massimo mistrial
Of the 10 infringement claims made by Masimo, Apple says that the judge rejected five of them, leaving the jury to decide on the remaining five.
Bloomberg reports that while six of the seven jurors found that Apple had not infringed any of Masimo’s patents, the remaining jurors disagreed. The jury eventually concluded that it would not be possible to reach a unanimous verdict, and sent a note to the judge informing him of this.
“We’re not going to be able to come to a joint conclusion,” the all-female panel wrote in its final note to the judge. Earlier, the jury said six of its members voted for Apple and one for Masimo, and she refused to change her mind. US District Judge James Selna declared a mistrial late Monday afternoon.
Masimo said that he was disappointed by the result, and – despite Apple coming close to winning – the company intends to file for a retrial.
Apple said it was pleased by the partial win.
“We deeply respect intellectual property and innovation and do not take or use confidential information from other companies,” the company said. “We are pleased that the court correctly rejected half of the plaintiffs’ trade secret allegations, and will now ask the court to dismiss the remaining claims.”
Masimo revealed that Apple had at one point planned to acquire the company, but CEO Tim Cook decided against this. Apple, for its part, put forward “numerous employees who had worked on the sensor project” to testify that they had not used Masimo’s tech in the development of the O2 sensor in the Apple Watch.
Whether Masimo will actually file for a retrial remains to be seen. Having come so close to losing the case, it would seem a risky thing to do.
The health tech company does still hold out hope that the US International Trade Commission might ban imports of the Apple Watch, based on its separate finding that Apple did infringe one patent, with a final decision to be made later this month. That decision was likely to be influenced by the result of this case – which we now don’t (officially) have.
Normally, we wouldn’t know anything more than the fact that the jury was unable to reach an agreement. It’s unusual for a jury to reveal the split in its view, but the fact that it did so means that the ITC may still be swayed. My money says that Masimo will not be granted an import ban.
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