Apple Watch finds itself at the heart of a mounting patent dispute with medical technology firm Masimo. The US International Trade Commission (ITC) recently upheld a decision that certain Apple Watch models infringed on patents owned by Masimo. These patents focus on light-based technology used for measuring blood oxygen levels. It’s a technology that has been a prominent feature in Apple’s flagship wearables since the Apple Watch Series 6 release in 2020.
The lawsuit origins date back to 2021 when Masimo accused Apple of capitalizing on its patented technology. While the focus remains on the Apple Watch Series 6, which Apple discontinued in 2021, the potential ramifications of an import ban could extend to current Apple Watch models.
Administrative Decisions Ahead
The verdict now rests in the White House’s hands. President Joe Biden’s administration possesses a 60-day review period to contemplate a veto on the import ban, owing to policy considerations. Historical data suggests US Presidents seldom override such bans. However, if the ban sails through this review without a veto, Apple can challenge the decision at the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
It’s also worth noting that Apple is not solely in a tussle with Masimo. The tech giant is simultaneously grappling with another patent disagreement involving medical technology company AliveCor.
Masimo’s CEO, Joe Kiani, celebrated the ITC’s ruling, emphasizing that even titans like Apple should adhere to the law. He portrayed this as a notable stand for patent rights and lauded the decision as a testament to Masimo’s resilience against patent infringements.
Contrastingly, Apple articulated concerns about the larger implications of the ruling. Highlighting that Masimo’s approach jeopardizes a product with life-saving potential, Apple’s spokesperson commented on Masimo’s intent to capitalize on this legal tussle for advancing its product range.
Despite these legal setbacks, Apple’s wearables and accessory segment have demonstrated remarkable resilience. In 2023’s third quarter alone, Apple raked in a whopping $8.28 billion from this division.
A upheld import ban could ripple across the US market, impacting Apple Watch availability and pricing. This ongoing saga underscores the intricate balance between technological advancement, intellectual property rights, and broader market dynamics. The unfolding of events will shape the technological landscape, policy directions, and the overarching narrative surrounding patent rights in the tech arena.