Apple has been handed a victory in its ongoing legal battle with AliveCor over the Apple Watch’s heart monitoring technology.
AliveCor had alleged that Apple restricted third-party access to certain Apple Watch heart rate data, a move that it deemed was anticompetitive. A US District Court judge, however, has ruled entirely in Apple’s favor and said the company will not have to face the lawsuit in a trial.
In a statement to 9to5Mac, an Apple spokesperson said:
“At Apple, our teams are constantly innovating to create products and services that empower users with health, wellness, and life-saving features. 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. We thank the Court for its careful consideration of this case, and will continue to protect the innovations we advance on behalf of our customers against meritless claims.”
The case centered around upgrades to Apple Watch’s heart rate algorithm made as part of watchOS 5 in 2018, with the company upgrading from the “Heart Rate Path Optimizer” algorithm to the “Heart Rate Neural Network” algorithm. AliveCor argued that these changes hurt the experience of using its SmartRhythm feature, available in its own watchOS app.
AliveCor then filed this antitrust lawsuit in May 2021, saying that Apple should have continued to make Apple Watch heart rate data available from the pre-watchOS 5 algorithms as well. Apple, however, did not do this because it found that the HRNN was more accurate.
Apple also said that it has always made Apple Watch heart rate data available to developers, including with a Workout Session API in watchOS 5. It additionally argued that the changes to the heart rate algorithm in watchOS 5 were genuine product improvements to the Apple Watch and that other companies have no right to impact Apple’s design and business decisions.
In a summary judgement, US District Judge Jeffrey White ruled in favor of Apple in this case. The details of the decision are unavailable for confidentiality reasons, but Apple says a public version will be available in a few weeks.
The judge found that Apple’s changes to watchOS were not anticompetitive and that the case should not go to a jury trial.
Additionally, a separate dispute between Apple and AliveCor over patents related to Apple Watch’s ECG feature continues. Today’s decision has no bearing on that patent dispute.
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