Apple faces potential import ban on Apple Watches amid Masimo patent battle

The US International Trade Commission has issued a ruling that could ban Apple Watch imports due to Masimo patent infringement. The decision is now under President Biden’s review, but Apple may appeal.

Seoul - 05.02.2022: Male hand with two Apple Watches with pink and gray strap on white background.

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) has issued an order that can potentially prohibit the import of Apple Watches for violating patent of the medical device company, Masimo, patents.Namely, ITC’s found Apple’s devices to violate Masimo’s patents about light-based technology for blood-oxygen-level measurement. However, it’s important to note that this import ban won’t be implemented immediately; it is pending a review by the President and may also be subject to appeals. President Joe Biden’s administration has a 60-day window to determine whether to veto the import ban based on policy considerations.

Following the review period, Apple can challenge the ban in the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The ITC’s ruling does not specify which specific models of Apple Watches might be affected. Masimo has accused Apple of integrating its technology into various Apple Watch models, resulting in a complex legal dispute spanning multiple jurisdictions. It’s worth noting that this is not the sole patent dispute Apple is currently embroiled in; it also faces a pending Apple Watch import ban in a separate case involving the medical technology company AliveCor. Nevertheless, Apple’s wearables and accessory business continues to generate substantial revenue, amassing $8.28 billion in the third quarter of 2023.

Why does it matter?

If the import ban is upheld, it could affect the availability and pricing of Apple Watches for consumers in the USA. This would implications for Apple’s market share and the choices available to consumers. This case highlights the ongoing legal battles and complex issues surrounding intellectual property in the tech industry. The outcome of this case could set a precedent for how patent rights are upheld and enforced in the future. Furthermore, the involvement of the President’s administration in the review process underscores the intersection of technology, trade policy, and governmental decision-making.