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Apple Sued By Doctor Over Apple Watch's Atrial Fibrillation Detection Feature

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A doctor from New York University filed a lawsuit against Apple, alleging that the tech giant violated his patent and used the technology in Apple Watch to detect atrial fibrillation optically.

The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Cardiologist Joseph Weasel said in his lawsuit that in March 2006, the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted him a patent, entitled "Method of an apparatus for detecting atrial fibrillation".

Atrial fibrillation or AFib is an irregular heartbeat that can lead to the formation of blood clots resulting in stroke, heart failure and other potentially devastating complications. In the U.S. alone, AFib is responsible for approximately 130,000 deaths and 750,000 hospitalizations every year.

Wisel said he invented a method and device for detecting AFib by assessing whether a pulse rate pattern is regular or irregular, using light and sensors. This approached enabled patients to properly monitor atrial fibrillation in a non-hospital setting.

Wiesel alleges his patent, known as the "514 Patent," was infringed upon by Apple and used in the Apple Watch, which utilizes a photoplethysmography or PPG sensor to detect AFib.

Wiesel said he notified Apple in detail about his parent in September 2017 after the roll-out of the Apple Watch Series 3. However, a year later, Apple unveiled the Apple Watch Series 4 that included Afib detection technology.

The doctor alleged in his lawsuit that Apple refused to negotiate in good faith even after being provided detailed claim charts highlighting the elements of his patent claims and mapping them to elements of Apple's Watch products.

Wiesel accused Apple of not only launching two infringing products, the Apple Watch Series 4 and Series 5, but also updating the software on the existing legacy Series 1, 2, and 3 Apple Watches to enable the infringing heart monitoring features.

Apple is estimated to have sold between 50 million to 100 million watches with either this functionality prepackaged or available as an upgrade, according to the lawsuit.

Apple is also expected to sell an additional 30 million to 40 million watches with this functionality by the time the '514 Patent expires.

Wiesel is demanding that Apple pay him royalties for the patent infringement. He also wants to be a permanent injunction to be awarded, enjoining Apple from infringing the patent.

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