Apple sued over atrial fibrillation optical sensor in Apple Watch

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2020
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 optically.




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. The suit calls the patent "pioneering steps in atrial fibrillation detection."

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."

The suit alleges that Apple's marketing of irregular heartbeat notifications makes the patent a "critical part of the Apple Watch" used to drive consumer demand. Furthermore, Apple's use of the technology in the Apple Watch heart study with Stanford is pointed to as an example of how critical the technology is to Apple and the Apple Watch.

The patent doesn't address a watch at all, but does include discussions of devices attached to "appendages" specified as a finger in the patent, or a "cuff device" in the case of an inflating blood pressure sensor. The '514 patent does include a discussion that there needs to be a microprocessor of some sort keeping track of time and interpreting the readings that the photoplethysmograph sensors record, though.

Looking at the patent, there appears to be significant prior art in regards to the invention, many of which were cited by the filer. Additionally, while Dr. Wiesel has a long and distinguished career and education, it does not appear that he has been part of any teams that have developed photoplethysmograph hardware or software.

Dr. Wiesel is seeking royalties going forward, legal fees, and recovery of past damages. Given that the suit alleges that the infringement is "willful, intentional, and deliberate," triple damages are being sought.

Wiesel Versus Apple by Mike Wuerthele on Scribd

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 69
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,734member
    I'm usually very skeptical of these suits, but this one might have legs.
    FLMusicSpamSandwichzoetmb
  • Reply 2 of 69
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,475member
    DAalseth said:
    I'm usually very skeptical of these suits, but this one might have legs.
    Nope. Reread... significant prior art, never developed a product. Just another “inventor" who thinks they have Apple by the short hairs. 
    MissNomerGeorgeBMacJFC_PAcincymacmdriftmeyerwatto_cobraFLMusicmagman1979StrangeDayschasm
  • Reply 3 of 69
    Methinx the good doctor is about to undergo a valuable lesson in the huge cavernous difference between filing a patent and actually having a valid one.

    These devices have been around for yonks - I know 'cause my a-fib was monitored using one way back in the late 90s.

    Prior art is gonna kick this one to the curb.
    edited December 2019 macplusplusmdriftmeyerdysamoriaviclauyycpujones1svanstromwatto_cobramagman1979bb-15StrangeDays
  • Reply 4 of 69
    Apple is certain to have documented prior art and their entire development timeline prior to Apple Watch announcement in 2014.
    mdriftmeyerwatto_cobramagman1979chasm
  • Reply 5 of 69
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    lkrupp said:
    DAalseth said:
    I'm usually very skeptical of these suits, but this one might have legs.
    Nope. Reread... significant prior art, never developed a product. Just another “inventor" who thinks they have Apple by the short hairs. 
    Inventing something and developing a product are two separate things.   Why people don’t grasp this is beyond me.   The doctor actually has something to stand on, it might not be enough but it isn’t air like many suits against Apple.  

    Things like this actually makes Apple look a bit pathetic.   Simply buying the patent would have eliminated the whole nonsense of this legal action.  
    sapporobabyrtrnslarryjw80s_Apple_Guybeowulfschmidtllamamuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 6 of 69
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    MissNomer said:
    Methinx the good doctor is about to undergo a valuable lesson in the huge cavernous difference between filing a patent and actually having a valid one.

    These devices have been around for yonks - I know 'cause my a-fib was monitored using one way back in the late 90s.

    Prior art is gonna kick this one to the curb.
    Unless of course the tech differs or if the doctor is involved in some ways with those other products.  
  • Reply 7 of 69
    MissNomer said:
    Methinx the good doctor is about to undergo a valuable lesson in the huge cavernous difference between filing a patent and actually having a valid one.

    These devices have been around for yonks - I know 'cause my a-fib was monitored using one way back in the late 90s.

    Prior art is gonna kick this one to the curb.
    I guess you don’t know much about the patent system. Also take a look at how many of these never-to-become-real patents Apple has filed.

    The doctor will be on the winning end of this suit, likely a massive settlement.
    sapporobabyrtrns80s_Apple_Guy
  • Reply 8 of 69
    I don't see how simply timing a heart beat and measuring differences -- which is what the Apple Watch does -- can be restricted by any patent.  

    I could see patenting the technology of how to time it and measure differences or even how to "see" the heart beat itself.   But simply timing it and measuring the differences would be like patenting the measurement of a person's height or weight you might patent the tools for doing so (like a scale or ruler) but not the process itself.
    edited December 2019 watto_cobrachabig
  • Reply 9 of 69
    At the heart of the matter is patent 7,020,514.

    I get jokes.
    watto_cobrachasm
  • Reply 10 of 69
    I don't see how simply timing a heart beat and measuring differences -- which is what the Apple Watch does -- can be restricted by any patent.  

    I could see patenting the technology of how to time it and measure differences or even how to "see" the heart beat itself.   But simply timing it and measuring the differences would be like patenting the measurement of a person's height or weight you might patent the tools for doing so (like a scale or ruler) but not the process itself.
    You know, if you read the patent linked to in the article, it actually does describe the use of the technologies and other components and methods in great detail. 
    watto_cobra80s_Apple_Guymuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 11 of 69
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,274member
    I don't see how simply timing a heart beat and measuring differences -- which is what the Apple Watch does -- can be restricted by any patent.  

    I could see patenting the technology of how to time it and measure differences or even how to "see" the heart beat itself.   But simply timing it and measuring the differences would be like patenting the measurement of a person's height or weight you might patent the tools for doing so (like a scale or ruler) but not the process itself.
    You know, if you read the patent linked to in the article, it actually does describe the use of the technologies and other components and methods in great detail. 
    Except what they’re doing is essentially using a pulse oximeter to detect the heart rate and rhythm something that should fall under the category of ‘obvious.’ Pulse oximeters have been around for decades, with the original concept dating back to the 30’s or 40’s and has been standard of care for over 30 years in clinical settings.
    GeorgeBMacwatto_cobramagman1979
  • Reply 12 of 69
    Good luck.

    The hardware simply measures the pulse. It’s the software (and a ridiculous amount of testing/research done to detect abnormal patterns and differentiate them from normal ones) that gives it the ability to spot AFIB.

    One can’t simply say “there’s a microprocessor that takes these readings and detects AFIB” without describing the very specific way it does the detection.
    MacQcmacplusplusuraharaGeorgeBMacImAlwaysRightMacProsteven n.danhEsquireCatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 69
    His invention without Apple’s software and additional hardware is useless. Apples sensor has been dramatically improved and miniaturized. Apple ignored Dr. Joseph Wiesel  few years back for a reason! 
    MacQcwatto_cobramagman1979StrangeDays
  • Reply 14 of 69
    Apple should do the right thing and give this guy a free Apple Watch. :smiley:
    edited December 2019 GeorgeBMacMacProsteven n.watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 69
    I’m certain the plaintiff is kicking himself for not specifying a “wrist-mounted watch-type device” instead of  “devices attached to "appendages" specified as a finger in the patent, or a "cuff device".

    It would have helped his case immeasurably. 
    ImAlwaysRightwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 69
    All I can say, is cases like this need to go in front an expert panel, and not a regular jury.
    steven n.dysamoriaviclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 69
    No good deed goes unpunished. 
    magman1979
  • Reply 18 of 69
    I can’t seem to be able to find much on him online. I am curious if he was working at a university at the time he thought of this idea. If so then it belongs to the university not him. 

    I did find he was involved in a clinical trial in 2009. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00861354

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 69
    Also. Remember. Has to be near identical. Similar doesn’t count. He thought a microprocessor needed to be involved but couldn’t figure out how. Apple did. 
    GeorgeBMacwatto_cobramagman1979StrangeDays
  • Reply 20 of 69
    Anytime you get involved in Medicine, someone will find a way to sue your ass.
    watto_cobramagman1979
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