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On Thursday, the U.S. International Trade Commission determined that Apple had infringed on a patent held by the medical-technology company, Masimo. This infringement could potentially result in an import ban on specific Apple Watch models.
In 2021, Masimo filed a complaint with the Commission, alleging that Apple copied its blood-oxygen measurement technology in their pulse oximeter on most new models of the Apple Watch since 2020, starting with the Series 6.
According to the Commission, this ruling was in violation of the U.S. trade law, and led to a limited exclusion order being issued. This means there could be an import ban placed on specific models of the Apple Watch being imported to the U.S. Apple said it plans on appealing the agency’s decision.
The Biden administration has 60 days to decide on whether or not to veto the import ban before the ruling takes effect.
Apple has a few potential options to avoid a ban. They could modify the software so it no longer utilizes Masimo’s disputed technology, or they could negotiate a civil settlement with Masimo.
Both the companies have engaged in legal battles over the past few years where Masimo has accused Apple of stealing its technology and poaching its employees.
Masimo Chief Executive Joe Kiani said in their statement, “Even the world’s largest company is not above the law.” However, according to Apple, “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”.
Masimo is not the first company to accuse Apple of stealing technology, though Apple has never admitted to any of those allegations, and has said most of the patents they’re violated for are “overly broad.” A company named AliveCor previously accused Apple of stealing its health-sensing technology and sued it too. Though this allegation also did not lead to any negative consequences for Apple as they were quickly able to appeal and avoid the charges.
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