Apple has heart pains after doctor sues over smart watch patent

Apple Watch

A doctor from New York has sued Apple over the heartbeat monitoring technology used in its smart watch, claiming that the giant technology company has infringed his patent for a method of detecting irregular heartbeats.

Joseph Wiesel, a cardiologist based in Queen’s who also teaches at New York University’s School of Medicine, filed his suit on Friday in a federal court in Brooklyn. He has called upon the court to require the California-based company to pay him royalties for future use of his patented method, has alleged that the infringement was “wilful” and has demanded damages.

Apple, which was founded in 1976 and is the world’s most valuable technology company, has included a range of health and fitness features on its smart watch. It has marketed the device as an aid to “inspiring a healthier life”. The device detects if a user falls over and the heart rate notification feature alerts a user if it detects an irregular rhythm.

Dr Wiesel said that his invention had made “pioneering steps” in atrial fibrillation detection by monitoring “irregular pulse rhythms from a succession of time intervals”. He first contacted the company in September 2017 to alert it to his patent and filed his claim after Apple “refused to negotiate in good faith”, according to the lawsuit.

The cardiologist said that Apple’s marketing of the watch’s irregular heartbeat notifications had made his patent a “critical” part of generating consumer demand for the smart watch.

Apple sold 6.8 million smart watches globally in the third quarter of 2019, according to Strategy Analytics, a corporate researcher.