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Apple’s alleged monopolistic practices called “rotten to the core” in Apple Watch ECG lawsuit

In brief: Apple, a company that is no stranger to accusations of monopolistic practices, has had an antitrust lawsuit filed against it by medical device maker AliveCor. The suit claims that Cupertino stole its heart-rate monitoring technology and cornered the market in a “predatory” manner.

AliveCor says Apple stole its “cardiological detection and analysis technology” when it added an electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor to the 2018 Apple Watch. The company made the KardiaBand, an Apple Watch wristband with an ECG feature, and the SmartRhythm companion app that would alert wearers to any unusual heartbeat patterns.

According to the filing, Apple initially accepted the SmartRhythm app onto its store but later claimed it “violated” unwritten App Store guidelines. AliveCor adapted SmartRhythm multiple times so that it met Apple’s ever-changing policies, but Cupertino eventually made changes to the watchOS’s heart-rate algorithm so SmartRhythm and other competing apps would no longer work. An action that the suit says “put countless AliveCor users’ lives in danger.”

“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,” states the suit.

“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.”

AliveCor says that “Apple’s anticompetitive conduct was and remains rotten to the core.”

AliveCor is seeking damages for the loss of business, business relationships, client goodwill, and more. In December, it sued Apple for patent infringement in Texas, and last month requested the US International Trade Commission ban imports of Apple Watches.

Image credit: DenPhotos

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