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Apple Defeats Vinod Khosla-Backed AliveCor Suit Over Apple Watch Tech

Apple Inc. won’t have to face a lawsuit alleging its watch copied heart-monitoring technology from a Khosla Ventures LLC-backed startup, AliveCor, a federal judge ruled. US District Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland, California, entered a judgment Tuesday in favor of Apple. Details of decision were filed under seal, due to confidentiality concerns by the companies. A redacted version will be made public in coming weeks. 

“AliveCor’s lawsuit challenged Apple’s ability to improve important capabilities of the Apple Watch that consumers and developers rely on, and today’s outcome confirms that is not anticompetitive,” Apple said in a statement.

AliveCor said it was “deeply disappointed” in the decision and plans to appeal. “We will continue to vigorously protect our intellectual property to benefit our consumers and promote innovation,” the company said in a statement. 

The dispute was based on a meeting in 2015, when AliveCor co-founder David Albert was invited by Apple executives to show off his heart-monitoring device, dubbed the KardiaBand. AliveCor claims Albert was told the iPhone maker intended to collaborate on the technology. 

Apple has said the meeting was like hundreds of others it has hosted with developers over the years, with no pretense of a partnership.

After 18 months of discussions between the companies, in “a clear attempt to steal AliveCor’s thunder,” Apple announced its own heart health initiative for the Apple Watch, a few hours after AliveCor informed Apple of the official launch date for the KardiaBand, according to the complaint. 

Over the next few years, as Apple updated the Apple Watch operating system, no other service was allowed to offer heart-rate monitoring on the device because of the company’s “concentrated campaign to corner the market,” AliveCor claimed in its antitrust complaint. Apple denied that allegation and said it has allowed third-party apps to use its heart-rate sensor technology since 2015.

AliveCor said separate patent claims against Apple are still being litigated.

The case is AliveCor v. Apple, 21-cv-03958, US District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).

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