More details are now available on Apple's legal victory over AliveCor

Last week, Apple scored a significant victory in its legal battle with AliveCor over Apple Watch heart rate monitoring. technologies. However, full details of the decision were not available at the time due to privacy concerns.

This week, the judge in the case released a public version of the court's decision in favor of Apple.

For full details, I refer you to my full coverage of the AliveCor-Apple antitrust battle from last week. The crux of the matter was that AliveCor filed an antitrust lawsuit in May 2021, alleging that changes Apple made to the Apple Watch's heart rate algorithm were anticompetitive.

The case centered on an update to the Apple Watch's heart rate algorithm made as part of watchOS 5 in 2018, when the company switched from a Heart Rate Path Optimizer (HRPO) algorithm to a Heart Rate Neural Network (HRNN) algorithm. AliveCor claims that these changes degraded the experience of the SmartRhythm feature available in its own watchOS app.

AliveCor then filed an antitrust lawsuit in May 2021, arguing that Apple should have continued to provide heart rate data to the Apple Watch using algorithms that existed before watchOS 5. Apple, however, did not do so because found that HRNN was more accurate.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ruled in Apple's favor, saying Apple's changes to watchOS were not anticompetitive and that the case should not go to a jury trial. Notably, the court also rejected AliveCor's claim that Apple violated the California Unfair Competition Law.

The full version of the decision released today contains more detailed information about the specifics of the court's decision. “The court simply cannot accept AliveCor's proposal to micromanage the algorithms Apple supports in watchOS by ordering Apple to change its Workout Mode API to reintegrate HRPO and allow third-party developers access to HRPO values,” he said. the solution explains.

For example, the judge explains that competitors have no right to control Apple's product decisions—which is exactly what AliveCor tried to do. “Apple has the right to make changes to a product that are detrimental to some purposes, as long as they benefit consumers in some other way,” the company said. says the judge.

And one more thing:

The logical implication of AliveCor's position is that Apple would have to support any algorithm used by one developer in watchOS if removing legacy algorithms would break third-party apps and increase Apple's market share. HRPO was just one of many algorithms in the Workout Mode API, and the Workout Mode API was just one of many APIs in watchOS. Each one takes up space and requires battery life to function, which means turning it on too much will slow down your Apple Watch and drain the battery faster. Such a result would be untenable and would block the innovation that antitrust laws are designed to promote.

And more on the dismissal of AliveCor's claim that Apple violated California's Unfair Competition Law:

The court's role is not to endlessly review the quality of the algorithms Apple develops for use by each individual third-party developer to ensure that quality never degrades for any purpose. Such an order could restrict competition by discouraging companies from making product improvements that benefit consumers as a whole, to the detriment of certain parties who prefer the status quo.

The full text of the document is available below.


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