Apple’s secret trade battle with Masimo over pulse oximetry technology ends in mistrial

The latest legal dispute between Apple and pulse oximetry company Masimo ended today in a mistrial, reports Bloomberg. The jury overseeing the case was unable to reach a final decision in their deliberations, prompting US District Judge James Selna to declare a mistrial.

Six jurors wanted to decide in favor of Apple, but one juror held firm in favor of Masimo, leading to a dead end. This afternoon, the jurors sent the judge a note asking what to do because the juror who votes for Masimo would not change his position.

The judge initially planned to send the jurors home for the night and continue deliberations Tuesday, but after they insisted they couldn’t reach a consensus, he opted to call him.

Apple and Masimo have been in court for the past few weeks to determine whether Apple illegally stole Masimo employees and trade secrets when developing the Apple Watch. Masimo was seeking more than $1.8 billion in damages and co-ownership of five Apple pulse oximetry patents that Masimo claimed used its technology.

Apple in July 2013 hired Chief Medical Officer Michael O’Reilly and then in 2014 hired Cercacor CTO Marcelo Lamego (Cercacor is a Masimo spin-off). Masimo claims that the two former employees inappropriately shared Masimo intellectual property when they developed the Apple Watch, which Apple denies.

During the trial, Masimo tried to show that Apple Watch development was faltering prior to the hiring of the two Masimo employees, pointing to a 2013 email in which now-retired Apple executive Bob Mansfield called the Apple Watch “a disaster” and said that the sensor “failed” in its “current path”.

Apple contended that no Masimo IP was used in its work on the Apple Watch, and further that what Masimo claims are “trade secrets” are ideas “long known and used by multiple companies.” Apple said Masimo signed it up because Masimo saw the success of the Apple Watch and wanted to make its own smartwatch. In fact, Masimo introduced an Apple Watch-like wearable in late 2022 after decades of focus on large healthcare medical devices.

Masimo previously sued Apple for patent infringement, but the US Patent and Trademark Office ended up invalidating all but two of the patents. The US International Trade Commission said in January that Apple had infringed a Masimo patent, a case that is still ongoing.

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