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While the Apple Watch is a technological feat, a recently filed patent infringement lawsuit claims the device's heart monitoring technology was stolen.
As commentators seem to indicate, the case may be nothing more than a patent troll seeking to extort a settlement. The fact that the plaintiff hails from Michigan and Apple from California begs the question of why the case was filed in the Eastern District of Texas. Although experienced patent litigators know that venue as the country's most favorable venue for patent holders and a popular one for patent trolls, a recent SCOTUS decision means the Apple Watch case is likely not going to be sticking around the Texas federal court for very long.
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Mohammed Islam, owner of Omni MedSci, holds two patents describing processes for using a lightsource on a wearable device to take certain blood measurements. He is claiming that Apple stole his intellectual property after meeting with him and allegedly stringing him along with the promise of a partnership deal.
However, Islam's timing seems a bit off. As reports indicate, by the time he met with Apple, the Apple Watch's heart monitoring function had been finalized. After Islam sent over his patents to Apple, the company went radio silent on him. Additionally, Islam made changes to his own patents after he met with Apple, which raises a few serious questions. In addition to the heart monitoring features, Islam claims that Apple's recent patents related to monitoring blood sugar levels using light infringe upon his patents.
Interestingly, Islam and his companies have many patents, as well as a patent holding company, and have sued several other tech companies for infringing his patents. Recently, one of his companies reached a $5.4 million settlement with Verizon over their FiOS offerings. Also, Islam is no slouch: he holds several degrees and teaches at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
While the media may vilify Islam as a patent troll over what was likely his attorneys' decision to file in Texas's Eastern District, Apple is not necessarily the most innocent of parties as the numerous IP settlements in the wake of their products seem to suggest.