Potential Apple Watch Ban Issued by U.S. Trade Tribunal in Masimo Patent Battle

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on Thursday ordered a ban on Apple Watch imports into the country after finding that Apple violated pulse oximetry company Masimo's patents with the devices (via Reuters).

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The ban is now subject to presidential review, so it does not take effect immediately, and Apple can take the ban to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit after the 60-day review period ends. Presidents have rarely vetoed bans in the past.

"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," an Apple spokesperson said. "While today's decision has no immediate impact on sales of Apple Watch, we believe it should be reversed, and will continue our efforts to appeal."

Masimo Chief Executive Officer Joe Kiani said the decision "sends a powerful message that even the world's largest company is not above the law."

Since 2021, Masimo has been embroiled in an ongoing battle with Apple over several health capabilities found in some Apple Watch models, and Masimo has been pushing to have the models banned in the United States. The ITC decision did not specify which models of Apple Watches would be affected by the ban, but Masimo's original complaint said the Apple Watch Series 6, released in 2020, infringed its patents.

Masimo accuses Apple of having illegally poached Masimo employees and stole trade secrets when developing the Apple Watch. The company is seeking over $1.8 billion in damages and co-ownership of five Apple pulse oximetry patents that Masimo says use its technology.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ended up invalidating all but two of the patents, but the ITC in January said that Apple had infringed on a Masimo patent relating to light-based technology for reading blood-oxygen levels.

Apple is also facing an Apple Watch import ban in a separate patent court battle with medical technology company AliveCor. The ITC issued a ban in February, and the Biden administration declined to overrule the decision, but the ban has been placed on hold while proceedings over the validity of AliveCor's patents are completed.

Related Roundup: Apple Watch Series 9
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)

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Top Rated Comments

StudioMacs Avatar
8 months ago
I wasn’t expecting an article about a new Apple Watch band in October.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
labyrinth153 Avatar
8 months ago

Just knowing how ruthless Apple is in general, my gut instinct is that they're in the wrong.

As far as being a lifesaving product, the oxygen saturation meter on the Apple Watch is treacherously inaccurate.

I have an 02 of 88-92% at sea level.

I just completed a cross country move where I had to reach altitude of 8,000 feet while being driven (you surprisingly cannot avoid altitude no matter which way you drive across the US but 8,000 feet is about the minimum along I-40; 8,000 feet is also what airplanes are pressurized to).

I had a Masimo MightySat, a cheap back up pulse oximeter, and my Series 7 Apple Watch.

When I wasn't on supplemental oxygen, the Masimo and my cheap Amazon back-up pulse ox would show my oxygen going down to 82%.

The Apple Watch Series 7 continuously showed either normal oxygen saturation or inability to read the oxygen saturation.

It's a junk product not fit for purpose of measuring oxygen saturation and should be off the market for that purpose, unless all you want it to do is show you have normal oxygen saturation. Which makes it just a dangerous gimmick.

Apple sold Masimo products in its stores, and it's very typical of them to bring a smaller company into the fold before stabbing them in the back.
An actual blood oxygen level of 82% would be life threatening and you wouldn’t be checking it on a watch.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WiiDSmoker Avatar
8 months ago
And boy did they patent it!!
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jayducharme Avatar
8 months ago

Piracy is immoral
Unless you’re in China, where it’s standard business practice.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sw1tcher Avatar
8 months ago

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on Thursday ordered a ban on Apple Watch imports into the country after finding that Apple violated pulse oximetry company Masimo's patents with the devices (via Reuters ('https://www.reuters.com/technology/us-trade-tribunal-issues-potential-apple-watch-import-ban-masimo-patent-fight-2023-10-26/')).

"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," an Apple spokesperson said. "While today's decision has no immediate impact on sales of Apple Watch, we believe it should be reversed, and will continue our efforts to appeal."
If Apple did violate a patent, then what does it matter if the product ban results in keeping a potentially lifesaving product off the market for millions of U.S. consumers, or that Masimo will use their patent to make their own watch? That's a red herring.

Why can't/doesnt Apple simply pay Masimo to license the patent?
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
t0rqx Avatar
8 months ago
Is this the reason the watch has been stagnating for 5 years?
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)