Medical technology company Masimo is suing Apple, saying that the company stole trade secrets related to its health monitoring technology and also stole away key employees, according to a report by Bloomberg.
Masimo developed what is called signal processing tech for healthcare monitors, among other things. The company and its spinoff, Cercacor Laboratories, claim that Apple pretended to want to have a working relationship with them, but ended up hiring away important employees and stealing the company’s technology.
One of the employees who was hired away, Michael O’Reilly, eventually became the vice president of health technology endeavors at Apple.
Apple’s wearables division, which includes the Apple Watch, is its fastest-growing category, with over $24 billion in sales in the year ending in September.
Masimo and its spinoff said that Apple stole technology for its non-invasive monitoring, and that the theft was instrumental in Apple’s success. Apple is accused of infringing on 10 patents for technology that does things like measure oxygen levels in a person’s blood and measure a person’s heart rate using detectors and light emitters.
Masimo and Cercacor want the court to block any additional use of their technology in the Apple Watch 4 and 5. They are also calling for the confidential, allegedly stolen information to be returned, as well as an unspecified amount of damages.
In 2013, Apple reached out to Masimo and asked for a meeting between the two companies, court records said. Apple claimed that it wanted “to understand more about Masimo’s technology to potentially integrate that technology into Apple’s products,” Masimo said.
Masimo was under the impression that the meetings were productive, but instead of continuing with a collaboration, Apple hired O’Reilly, who at the time was Masimo’s chief medical officer, and was “privy to extremely sensitive information,” the lawsuit said.
The following year, Apple hired Cercacor’s CTO Marcelo Lamego.
“Given what appeared to be a targeted effort to obtain information and expertise from Masimo and Cercacor, Masimo and Cercacor warned Apple about respecting their rights,” the companies said in the lawsuit.