Philips, Masimo expand partnership after latter's pulse oximetry smartwatch launch

No seven-year itch here: After spending the better part of a decade putting aside their differences to team up on the combination of their respective patient monitoring technologies, Philips and Masimo are still going strong.

In fact, the devicemakers are now expanding their partnership, with an aim of integrating Masimo’s recently launched W1 smartwatch into Philips’ range of patient monitoring software, according to a Wednesday announcement.

The W1 wearable is equipped with sensors that collect pulse oximetry data, as well as pulse rate, respiration rate and hydration index readings, every second of the day. The device transmits that information to a connected smartphone app via Bluetooth for users to examine and share with their healthcare providers. The W1 system, which began a full market release last August, has received CE mark clearance in the E.U. and is awaiting FDA clearance in the U.S.

With the expansion of Masimo’s partnership with Philips, the wearable will also automatically send those readings to the healthcare providers’ patient monitoring portal, allowing them to continuously track their patients’ health even after they’re discharged from the hospital.

“Expanding our partnership with Philips in this way is a win-win for patients and clinicians everywhere, and is an important part of our multi-year plan to bring the best of hospital monitoring to the home while continuing to improve access to quality hospital care,” Bilal Muhsin, Masimo’s COO, said in the release.

Philips and Masimo’s collaboration was a somewhat unlikely one when it began in 2016: Their agreement was announced in the same release that heralded the end of a years-long legal battle between the two medtech giants.

Until that time, the companies had been squabbling over perceived overlaps in their technology patents. In deciding to bury the hatchet in late 2016, they agreed that Philips didn’t have to pay the $467 million penalty decided in a 2014 jury trial win for Masimo; instead, Philips paid $300 million and entered the partnership with the understanding that it would make “certain marketing and product integration commitments over the coming years.”

Under the terms of that initial agreement, Philips and Masimo said they would join forces on the marketing and sales of the latter’s noninvasive sensor technologies around the world, to be sold alongside Philips’ own health-tracking products. They also made plans to integrate other Masimo devices for brain monitoring, regional oximetry and capnography into Philips’ IntelliVue line of portable and bedside patient monitors.

Beyond the original $300 million payment, Masimo and Philips haven’t disclosed further financial details of their partnership or its recent expansion.

Masimo is now at the center of another legal battle. Last week, an administrative law judge representing the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that the pulse oximetry technology in Apple’s own eponymous wearable infringes on one of Masimo’s patents.

Next up, the ITC will decide whether that infringement necessitates an import ban on Apple Watches containing the blood oxygen measurement technology—a fate already hanging in the balance for many of the devices after a separate ITC ruling late last year determined that Apple’s built-in ECG tech violated patents filed by AliveCor.