Valencell accuses Apple of ripping off its heart sensor tech for the Apple Watch

Another day, another lawsuit. Valencell Inc. has filed a lawsuit against Apple in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division. Congrats, Valencell, you’re the first company to sue the Cupertino, California-based company this year. The lawsuit alleges patent infringement. 

Around February 2013, Apple assembled a team to develop a smartwatch. At that time, the company intended to incorporate a heart sensor into the Apple Watch (which it did). The lawsuit claims that, around that same time, Liang Hoe, a senior partnership manager at Apple, contacted Valencell regarding a partnership opportunity and that “Apple expressed an interest in Valencell’s heart sensor technology.”

During discussions between the two companies, per the lawsuit, Valencell demoed a prototype PerformTek-powered watch to approximately 15 Apple employees. (PerformTek sensor technology “continuously measures more real-time biometric data than other fitness monitors, with a high degree of accuracy, and does so in a single device”). The back of the watch included a heart-rate monitor that was “substantially similar” to the one that ended up in the Apple, Valencell claims.

The lawsuit claims that Apple solicited technical information from Valencell on the false premise that it wanted to license the company’s PerformTek technology, but didn’t. The lawsuit asserts that “Apple is knowingly using Valencell’s patented technology in an effort to achieve a licensing rate that is below a reasonable royalty.” Valencell is seeking an injunction of sales and damages.