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Apple must face claims it bars outside heart-rate apps from Apple Watch


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – A customer looks at Apple watches in the Apple Store, Broadway, Los Angeles, California. June 24, 2021. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – A federal judge ordered Apple Inc (NASDAQ) to face a Silicon Valley firm’s claim that it illegally monopolized America’s heart rate monitoring app market.

Jeffrey White, U.S. District Court Judge said AliveCor Inc., who makes the SmartRhythm app that alerts users to irregular heartbeats could attempt to show that Apple broke federal antitrust law. This is based on Apple’s alleged “complete command” of such apps.

White stated that Apple had made modifications to its heart rate algorithm making it virtually impossible for third parties, or users to be informed when they should take an ECG. The allegations of the plaintiffs clearly establish that Apple’s anticompetitive conduct.

White dismissed AliveCor’s claim that Apple held an illegal monopoly on smart watches with ECG capabilities.

This was due to AliveCor’s KardiaBand wristband that can record ECGs. The judge, who is based in Oakland, California, said it “complements but doesn’t compete” in this market.

Apple and its lawyers didn’t immediately reply to inquiries for comment. Adam Wolfson was a lawyer at AliveCor. He declined to comment.

AliveCor was a private company that sued Apple in May 2021. It claimed Apple had changed the Apple Watch heart rate algorithm to increase its “unfair competitive edge over other competitors” and put “numbers of AliveCor employees’ lives at risk.”

Apple, which is based in Cupertino (California), countered by stating that it was an “uncontroversial proposition” that product improvements did not violate federal Sherman antitrust laws.

AliveCor Inc. v Apple Inc. U.S District Court Northern District of California. 21-03958.

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