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Masimo accuses Apple of paying its exec millions of dollars for stealing pulse oximeter tech

According to a recent report, Apple offered a Masimo executive millions of dollars’ worth of shares and doubled his salary to convince him to introduce Masimo’s patented blood oxygen technology to the company. This development is the latest in a dispute between the two companies regarding whether the Apple Watch’s pulse oximeter uses Masimo’s patented technology.

According to reports from several years ago, in 2013, Apple reached out to Masimo with an interest in establishing a “working relationship” between the two companies. During meetings where Masimo’s pulse oximeter technology was discussed, it is alleged that Apple began to hire away Masimo employees. In early 2014, one such hire was confirmed as Dr. Michael O’Reilly, who had previously served as Masimo’s chief medical officer.

In 2020, Masimo filed a lawsuit against Apple, accusing the company of stealing trade secrets and infringing on ten of its patents related to the O2 sensor in the Apple Watch. The dispute escalated when the Apple Watch Series 6 launched with a new blood oxygen detection feature, prompting Masimo to seek a ban on the import of the new model through the US International Trade Commission. Although the attempt failed, a court later ruled that Apple had indeed infringed on one of Masimo’s patents. Apple is currently trying to have the decision overturned, and a final ruling is expected next month. In response, Apple accused Masimo of creating a clone of the Apple Watch.

The Wall Street Journal has published an article that delves into the larger issue of Apple’s alleged tendency to promise partnerships with other companies, only to not follow through and later use similar technologies in its own products. Masimo was one of the companies interviewed for the piece, and it revealed the extent of the offer made to O’Reilly.

Apple has countered Masimo’s accusations by stating that O’Reilly did not disclose any of Masimo’s intellectual property during his work on the Apple Watch. Apple also claimed that it hired O’Reilly for his expertise and not for any knowledge he might have had about Masimo’s technology.

One of the strategies used by Apple in its legal battles is to try to have the patents involved declared invalid. Additionally, Apple has pursued counterclaims against the companies involved, including their own patents, in an effort to discourage them from making similar claims against Apple in the future.