Thinker's Chronicle

Apple Watch Imports Banned in the US

According to the American Lung Association, the pulse oximeter or Pulse Ox, is an electronic device that measures the saturation of oxygen carried in your red blood cells. This technology has been the centre of a patent infringement issue between Masimo, a medical monitoring technology and Apple, a technology company selling electronic devices and software.

Photo Credits: The Washington Post

In 2022, Masimo released a smart watch for monitoring health, including blood oxygen level readings. Masimo accused Apple of hiring away its employees and copying its technology after discussing a potential collaboration. Masimo and Apple have been in a feud for a decade now over hiring the chief technical officer from Cercacor Labs. However, in 2020, Apple released their Series 6 apple watch that had a feature named ‘blood oxygen sensor.’In the same year, 2020, Masimo filed a lawsuit declaring an infringement of 10 of its patents including the technology measuring the blood oxygen levels.

Late last year, The US International Trade Commission(ITC) which is a federal agency that deals with international trade disputes, ruled that Apple had infringed on two patents from a medical device that contained pulse oximetry tech, made by Masimo.The ITC found that an Apple watch feature read blood oxygen levels that infringed on Masimo’s parents.Consequently, the ITC imposed an import ban on the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra that took effect in December after an October ruling.This prompted Apple to stop the sale of Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches just before Christmas.

However, Apple managed to convince a US appeals court to put a hold on the ban the following day and Apple was able to resume the sale of its watches as they fought the import ban ruling. Apple is working towards redesigning the watch in order for them to be able to sell and operate without infringing on Masimo’s patents. However, Masimo stated that its patents cover hardware and that a software fix would not work, and he is willing to settle this dispute.

“They stole our people. They stole our patents. They stole our property. And that’s not unusual for them.”

Joe KIANI, ceo of masimo

Lael Muchiri