Apple has been facing a long-running patent infringement battle with medical technology company Masimo over the Apple Watch. Apple has already suffered major defeats in court, as the US International Trade Commission (ITC) seems to agree that the Apple Watch infringes Masimo’s patents. Now the ITC has issued an order that could ban Apple from importing Apple Watch in the US.
ITC could ban Apple Watch imports in the US
As reported by Reuters (via Yahoo! Finance), the ITC has upheld a judge’s ruling from January that Apple infringed Masimo’s patents when it comes to technology for reading blood oxygen levels. Such technology was added to the Apple Watch Series 6 in 2020.
Since then, pretty much every new Apple Watch model (except for the SE) has blood oxygen monitoring. However, ITC doesn’t make it clear whether the ban would only affect Apple Watch Series 6 (which is no longer officially sold by Apple) or also current models, such as Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2.
Despite the ITC’s order, the ban doesn’t take effect immediately as it still depends on a presidential review by Joe Biden’s administration, which has 60 days to decide whether to veto the ban or not. And even if the Biden administration doesn’t intervene in the case, Apple can still appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
An Apple spokesperson said that “Masimo has wrongly attempted to use the ITC to keep a potentially lifesaving product from millions of U.S. consumers while making way for their own watch that copies Apple” and that the company will appeal. Masimo CEO Joe Kiani responded with “even the world’s largest company is not above the law.”
Back in 2013, Apple reportedly contacted Masimo to discuss collaboration between the two companies. However, according to Masimo, Apple used these meetings to obtain information and expertise, as well as hiring some of Masimo’s employees before the launch of the Apple Watch.
Because of this, Masimo claims that Apple has stolen privileged information and is infringing its patents with some of the technologies available in the Apple Watch.
Since the ITC’s decision is not final in determining whether the Apple Watch will be banned in the US, it’s hard to say what will happen next. The only thing we can be sure of is that, just like other legal battles, this one will be around for a long time to come.
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