A US judge in California declared a mistrial in Masimo’s smartwatch trade secret lawsuit against Apple on Monday, as jurors failed to come to a consensus in the billion-dollar case. Following the ruling, a Masimo spokesperson expressed disappointment at the jury’s inability to reach a verdict and stated their intention to retry the case.
The jury in the federal court of Santa Ana was asked to determine if Apple, based in Cupertino, California, had misused confidential information from Masimo pertaining to the use of light to measure biomarkers, such as heart rates and blood oxygen levels. After a three-week trial, the jury began deliberations on April 26th.
Apple released a statement conveying their respect for both intellectual property and innovation and their refusal to utilize confidential information from other companies. The statement also included a request to the court to dismiss the remaining claims in the case.
The Initial Lawsuit
In 2020, Masimo and its spinoff Cercacor Laboratories Inc. sued Apple, accusing them of stealing trade secrets and using them to create and sell several Apple Watch models. The lawsuit claimed that Masimo representatives met with Apple in 2013 to discuss integrating its inventions into Apple products and that Apple subsequently hired away two executives from Masimo and Cercacor and used their knowledge to copy the technology. Masimo had initially asked for $3.1 billion (roughly Rs. 253.45 crores) in damages, which was later reduced to $1.8 billion (roughly Rs. 147.17 crore) after the judge dismissed some of the trade-secret claims during the trial.
Potential Apple Watch Import Ban
In addition to the trade secret lawsuit, Masimo has also sued Apple at the US International Trade Commission over Apple Watch imports that violate its patent rights. An ITC judge preliminarily ruled in favor of Masimo in January, potentially leading to an import ban on infringing Apple Watches if the full commission affirms the decision.
Apple is also facing another potential Apple Watch import ban from medical device maker AliveCor in a separate patent fight over heart-monitoring technology. Smartwatches, mobile devices worn on the wrist with an array of capabilities, are a lucrative market, with global sales worth tens of billions of dollars.