Apple sued for patent infringement regarding Apple Watch’s atrial fibrillation optical sensor

Apple Watch Series 5
Apple Watch Series 5 features the Always-On Retina display

A doctor has launched a lawsuit alleging that Apple is willfully violating a patent surrounding the technologies used in the Apple Watch to detect atrial fibrillation (AFib).

Mike Wuerthele for AppleInsider:

At the heart of the matter is patent 7,020,514. The ‘514 patent, filed for and awarded to Dr. Joseph Wiesel, is called “Method of and apparatus for detecting atrial fibrillation” and was awarded on March 28, 2006.

The originating patent allows patients to use photoplethysmography, essentially what Apple uses in the Apple Watch with the green light and associated sensors, in a non-clinical setting… Dr. Wiesel notified Apple about his patent on September 20, 2017, following the rollout of the Apple Watch Series 3. The suit alleges that Apple refused to negotiate in good faith “even after Dr. Wiesel provided Apple detailed claim charts highlighting the elements of Dr. Wiesel’s patent claims and mapping them to elements of Apple’s Watch products.”

MacDailyNews Take: We highly doubt Apple was notified of a filed patent, then copied it explicitly, ignoring the patent holder.

35 Comments

    1. Sure just want to see Dr. Wiesel’s patent applied to an actual working wrist-worn device he created first. Next thing you know patent holders will be suing flora worldwide for absconding with their photosynthesis patent.

      1. Except that’s not necessarily how it works. He could have invented a full body chamber, not just wrist, and still have had his patent infringed.

        Not saying Apple did or didn’t, but your argument is, hum, “patently” wrong.

    2. Disclaimer: I have no idea, viewing this from my couch, whether this is a valid patent or whether Apple infringed, let alone willfully infringed.

      But don’t for a second believe that it’s not conceivable that Apple would stoop to this level. IF this is a valid patent and Apple knew about it, then its management, like execs in any capitalist organization beholden to maximizing shareholder value, had no choice but to weigh the make-versus-buy analysis. And that means calculating how much it costs to implement, including potential costs of fending off a lawsuit, versus licensing. Don’t for a second think Apple wouldn’t screw the little guy if it suits Apple’s cost-benefit model. That’s the dark side of capitalism.

      And for you wacko Trump zealots who are about to jump down my throat for expressing that capitalism is not Jesus’ One True Way, yes, communism and socialism have downsides too. And guess what? All of these economic systems have the same dark side, namely: People, especially those in command of power, are generally dicks.

    1. I got dibs on transporters and replicators!! (Now I just have to sit back and let someone else do the hard work of actually creating successful working devices and THEN sue.)

    1. We await your Constitutional Amendment. A patent means it’s their property. Should just anyone be able to live in a house you own if you haven’t used it in five years?

      1. Well, yes, although it’s more often seven years than five.

        “Adverse possession, sometimes colloquially described as “squatter’s rights”,[a] is a legal principle under which a person who does not have legal title to a piece of property—usually land (real property)—acquires legal ownership based on continuous possession or occupation of the land without the permission of its legal owner.[1]” (from Wikipedia, for convenience — actual laws vary by state or country)>

    2. Patents are awarded with only the most cursory examination, nowadays. Actual validity is determined after-the-fact in a court of law. That’s what will happen here. If it’s valid, we’ll find out, and if it’s invalid, then we’ll also find out. Until then, there’s no way of knowing one way or the other without being a patent lawyer and expert.

      1. No sir!
        I agree the number of frivolous patents has increased tremendously, and often only get cursory examination, and the Patent Office has basically said “let the courts figure it out”, but they are indeed valid once issued.

        It’s a mess. Still they are valid and enforceable until invalidated.

      1. I can file a deed to property that you occupy. That will cloud your title until it is cleared, but the mere filing of the document does not make the claim valid. Given that the Patent Office does not actually verify filed claims, the presumption of validity is really no stronger than the presumption that a spurious real estate filing is valid. Which is to say, not very strong.

        1. “I can file a deed to property that you occupy.”

          If you can clear title you can, but a Patent IS a deed. A deed to IP. They are exactly analogous, it’s just that a Patent has an expiry. Today’s patent system lack severely on judging merit, but they are a reasonably decent “title clearing company”.

          1. In Texas, at least, there is no need to clear title before filing a deed. I just hand the County Clerk a document and filing fee. The burden then basically shifts to you to prove clear title when you want to sell the property that you rightfully own. Nothing about that reality makes my deed valid. Nothing about the patent system makes a patent actually or conclusively valid against a competing claim to the invention, though it might be presumptively valid until shown otherwise.

            1. Interesting. I’ve just filed a patent application for a bearing assembly design which we are sure will work but is yet to be created. It should reduce friction dramatically – if it’s possible to assemble but until we figure it out we don’t know.
              The whole business of patents is bizarre and seemingly aimed at deception rather than exactitude at the early stages. We needed an expert’s knowledge to produce the most uninformative description, it’s intention phrased in precise but ‘non engineering’ terms and a classification that defied interest by third parties along with drawings that gave little away by virtue of simple, poor quality and weird angle of view.
              I have learned by past mistakes.

            2. I AM a lawyer, and specifically studied quite a bit of patent law, although I am not practicing patent law.

              (Disclaimer: I’m not YOUR lawyer, and nothing I say here should be taken as legal advice, only background information.)

              TxUser’s argument is more accurate than applecynic’s argument. TxUser is getting the nuance right: an issued patent is presumed valid, but until a court has made an actual determination, its validity is not yet determined. It is what is called a “rebuttable presumption.” The defendant has the burden to prove it invalid at trial, but that doesn’t mean it starts out as “known to BE valid.”

              Here’s a somewhat similar legal situation: when someone is accused of a crime, they are presumed innocent. The prosecutor has the burden to prove they committed the crime. It wouldn’t be correct for a journalist reporting on the case to say “the defendant did not do it, since they are presumed innocent.” Instead, they would be particular and say “we don’t know, but they are presumed innocent.”

              Similarly, an issued patent is presumed valid, but its actual validity is indeterminate until a court makes a ruling. There is a contest where one party has an advantage, but they still have to win the contest for the patent to be declared valid.

              Here’s a simple article on presumption, including the difference between a rebuttable presumption and a conclusive presumption:
              https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/presumption

            3. Thanks Krioni for the insight into ‘presumption’. Does this mean then that like the case of ‘presumed innocent’, once proven ‘innocent’ (or in the case of the patent portion in contention, proven ‘valid’), no future case can be brought to prove ‘invalidity’ for that part of the patent? Also as with ‘innocence’ does the patent holder have any recourse to prevent the violator(s) from further infringement till the case is settled, as the patent is presumed ‘valid’ till proven otherwise in court?

          2. You can post a deed on anyone’s property take out a loan against it and leave the actual owner to clean up the mess (Gentry) crime, old people are who own their home are usually the victims and local law enforcement say’s good luck, it’s to much hard work for us to solve.

            1. It’s an occupational hazard for public servants in Texas, a favorite tactic for extremist groups. “I’ll file a release if you just meet our demands.” Having been through that and similar issues, that’s why I avoid using my real name or identity information online

              Unfortunately, filing unsupported patents is the same principle.

  1. Don’t worry, Apple has had it’s own trouble validating their patents too. Just look at all the rangling, muckety-muck that the iPhone has had to fight. I’m looking at you Google and Samsung!

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.