A lawsuit filed by Apple yesterday accuses medical tech company Masimo of creating an Apple Watch clone, in the form of the W1 Advanced Health Tracking Watch.
Masimo rejects the claim, and says that Apple is merely retaliating for its own lawsuit alleging patent infringements by the Cupertino company…
The battle between the two companies has a long history. Back in 2013, Apple reportedly contacted Masimo to discuss a potential collaboration between the two companies. Instead, claims Masimo, Apple used the meetings to identify staff it wanted to poach. Masimo later called the meetings a “targeted effort to obtain information and expertise.”
Apple did indeed hire a number of Masimo staff, including the company’s chief medical officer, ahead of the launch of the Apple Watch.
Masimo CEO Joe Kiano later expressed concern that Apple may have been trying to steal the company’s blood oxygen sensor technology. The company describes itself as “the inventors of modern pulse oximeters,” and its technology is used in many hospitals.
“Some of the talent (Apple recruited) has access to deep wells of trade secrets and information,” said Joe Kiani, chief executive officer of medical device firm Masimo Corp, who lost his chief medical officer to Apple in mid-2013. Kiani said that Apple was offering sizeable salaries with little indication of what researchers would be doing. “They are just buying people,” he said. “I just hope Apple is not doing what we’re doing.”
In 2020, the company sued Apple for stealing trade secrets and infringing 10 Masimo patents. The lawsuit asked for an injunction on the sale of the Apple Watch.
Masimo W1 is an Apple Watch clone, says Apple
Fast-forward two years, and now Apple is suing Masimo. The Cupertino company claims that both the design and functionality of the Masimo W1 Advanced Health Tracking Watch make it an Apple Watch clone.
Masimo is a hospital equipment manufacturer that has never been in the consumer wearables business. But recently, Masimo released its first watch, direct to consumers, called the Masimo W1. Rather than innovating and developing a product independently, Masimo copied Apple while filing lawsuits to try to prevent sales of Apple Watch.
CNET reports an Apple spokesman saying that the lawsuit was intended to “protect the innovations we advance on behalf of our customers.” Masimo responded to Reuters, saying that Apple was simply retaliating for its own lawsuits.
W1 design and features
While the Masimo W1 does bear more than a passing resemblance to the Apple Watch, the Cupertino company might have a hard time alleging design infringements, given the somewhat limited number of ways of designing a square smartwatch.
It may have more luck attacking the feature set. Here’s how Masimo describes the W1 functionality:
The first of its kind, the Masimo W1 offers accurate, continuous health data and actionable health insights – from the leader in hospital pulse oximetry – in a personal, lifestyle-friendly watch.
Building on Masimo’s decades of leadership in creating revolutionary noninvasive blood parameter monitoring solutions, Masimo W1 provides a variety of physiological data – including oxygen level (SpO2), pulse rate, pulse rate variability, heart rate, heart rate variability, respiration rate, pleth variability index, and perfusion index – for consumers wanting to make better informed health and lifestyle decisions, improve their fitness, or track their health data on their own or with friends and family.
With the W1, Masimo aims to make its money from subscription services rather than the hardware.
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