Apple's actions were "rotten to the core" says the latest lawsuit calling the firm anticompetitive16
Late Tuesday, a company named AliveCor Inc. filed a lawsuit accusing Apple of monopolistic behavior related to the heart monitoring technology used on the Apple Watch. According to Scribd (via 9to5Mac) the suit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, says that Apple stole its technology and acted in a "predatory" and "exclusionary" manner. When Apple added an electrocardiogram (ECG) feature to its timepiece in 2018, AliveCor said Apple "stole AliveCor’s cardiological detection and analysis technology."
Apple sued again for monopolistic behavior
AliveCor's KardiaBand was a band for the Apple Watch that also had an ECG feature and was "the first FDA-cleared accessory for Apple Watch." AliveCor CEO Priya Abani said, "AliveCor developed the world’s first personal ECG and seeks to become the 24/7 virtual cardiologist for patients. Apple’s tactics in the heart rate analysis market, have injured competition, reduced consumer choice, and potentially damaged public health."
When Apple accepted AliveCor's products for the Apple Watch, it also allowed the company's SmartRhythm app to be listed in the App Store. The app worked with the KardiaBand, but Apple soon said that it violated unwritten App Store guidelines. As the court filing from the plaintiff notes, "When AliveCor pushed back, Apple responded by literally rewriting the rules."
Apple kept demanding that changes be made to the SmartRhythm app which AliveCor met every time. But then the tech giant made the ultimate move when it changed its heart rate algorithm for the watch to make sure that SmartRhythm and other apps competing with Apple would not work.
Apple actions were "rotten to the core" says AliveCor
The court filing explains how greed was behind Apple's actions which were similar to how it monopolizes other markets. AliveCor said, "But, as it has done multiple times over the years in other markets, Apple decided that it would not accept competition on the merits. Almost immediately after AliveCor started selling KardiaBand and its apps, Apple began a concentrated campaign to corner the market for heart rate analysis on the Apple Watch, because the value of controlling such critical health data (with the accompanying ability to exploit it) was apparently too much of a temptation for Apple."
AliveCor stopped offering the KardiaBand in 2019 and the SmartRhythm app has been long gone from the App Store. The company now sells KardiaMobile 6L, a mobile product that works with an app to take a 6-lead ECG wherever you go. The test is important because an abnormal heart rhythm can be a sign of Atrial fibrillation (AFib) which can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and more.
According to the plaintiff, Apple now owns 100% share of the market for heart rate analysis apps for watchOS. Including all ECG enabled wearables in the states, Apple's share is still above 70%.
AliveCor gets pretty rough on Apple and states, "With a single update, Apple thus eliminated competition that consumers clearly wanted and needed, depriving them of choice for heart rate analysis that is better than what Apple can provide. And all for an incremental value gain for an already-two-trillion-dollar company. And if that isn't enough the plaintiff says, "Apple’s anticompetitive conduct was and remains rotten to the core."
AliveCor is asking for damages, treble damages (which simply means triple the damages), Attorney's fees, Costs; Pre-judgment and post-judgment interest at the maximum rate permitted under the law; Punitive damages; Injunctive relief, including but not limited to an injunction barring Apple's conduct alleged in the Complaint; Declaratory relief, including but not limited to a declaration and judgment that Apple’s conduct alleged in the Complaint violates the laws alleged in the Complaint; and Such other and further relief as the Court deems proper and just.
Unlike the Epic v. Apple trial which is a bench trial without a jury (the judge will make the final decision), AliveCor seeks a jury trial.