- The US International Trade Commission has issued a ban on certain Apple Watches
- Masimo claimed that Apple had infringed his patent on blood oxygen monitors
- The order goes into effect on December 26th – unless President Joe Biden reverses it
After a surprising ruling by a commercial court, the import of Apple Watches into the US could soon be banned – which could turn the popular devices into collector’s items after the holidays.
Last week, the United States International Trade Commission issued a “limited exclusion order” on certain Apple watches that will ultimately ban the import of smartwatches.
The import ban and ban on sales of Apple Watches – which dominate 60 percent of the smartwatch market, according to Counterpoint Research – are set to take effect on December 26th.
President Joe Biden could prevent the ban, which would cost Apple some of its estimated $14 billion to $18 billion in annual watch revenue, but overruling the trade court’s decision would be an unusual move.
The commercial court upheld a January ruling that Apple infringed Masimo’s patent on light-based technology for reading biomarkers such as blood oxygen levels.
The ruling means Apple will have to stop selling watches this Christmas, with the exception of the SEO model.
In September, Apple launched the Apple Watch Series 9. The United States International Trade Commission issued a ban that could result in the smartwatches being banned shortly after the holidays
Masimo (left), a global medical technology company, said Apple (right) violated its patent on light-based technology to measure biomarkers such as blood oxygen levels
‘[The] “The USITC’s decision sends a strong message that even the largest company in the world is not above the law,” Joe Kiani, founder, chairman and CEO of Masimo, said in a statement.
“This important finding is a strong endorsement of our efforts to hold Apple accountable for its misappropriation of our patented technology.”
The iPhone maker has announced that it will appeal the order in federal court.
“Our teams work tirelessly to develop products and services that provide users with industry-leading health, wellness and safety features,” Apple said.
“Masimo wrongly attempted to use the ITC to deprive millions of U.S. consumers of a potentially life-saving product while making way for their own watch, which Apple copies.”
Apple has denied Masimo’s claims and said it respects the intellectual property of other companies.
Masimo, a global medical technology company, first complained in 2021 that the Apple Watch Series 6, released in 2020, and all subsequent models use technology that infringes the company’s blood oxygen sensor patent.
In September, the tech giant launched the Apple Watch Series 9, which features the touchless ability to answer calls, take a photo with the camera remote, and set alarms – users tap their index finger and thumb together to perform these tasks .
The watches cost between $399 and $699.
President Joe Biden could also intervene and reverse the ruling. But presidents rarely override impartial authorities
It uses machine learning to detect tiny changes in blood flow when the user taps their fingers together, leaving the other hand free for other tasks like walking the dog or holding a cup of coffee, said Jeff Williams, chief operating officer Officer from Apple.
According to the New York Times, Masimo claimed that instead of purchasing a license for the technology, Apple strategically hired more than 20 employees from the rival company.
The commercial court ruling means Apple will have to stop selling all watches except the SE model this Christmas. However, the sides could reach an agreement that would allow Apple to use the technology.
President Biden could also intervene and reverse the ruling. But presidents rarely override impartial authorities, the Times noted.
According to Business of Apps, Apple generated around $14 billion to $18 billion in 2022 revenue from watch sales as part of its wearable and accessories division.
In May, a California judge invalidated a separate Masimo trade secrets case against Apple after a jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict.
Separately, Apple has sued Masimo in federal court in Delaware for patent infringement. The company has claimed that Masimo is trying to carve out a space for its own smartwatch.