The Apple-Masimo Patent Litigation Heats up

patent litigation, patent, litigation, Apple, Masimo

In Apple-Masimo patent litigation news, Apple appealed against the ban on imports of its watches, imposed by the ITC following a patent dispute with Masimo.

  • After a prolonged legal battle, the ITC determined that Apple infringed on five Masimo patents related to light-based blood oxygen monitoring.
  • Apple seeks to halt the ban until U.S. Customs and Border Protection determines if the redesigned watches still infringe on Masimo’s patents.

On December 26th, Apple appealed the decision to ban imports of its watches caused by a patent dispute with Masimo over pulse oximetry technology.

The ban, imposed by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), alleges that Apple incorporated pulse oximetry technology, used for monitoring blood oxygen levels, without permission.

Masimo, a medical monitoring technology company, claims that Apple stole its pulse oximetry technology. It also convinced some of its employees to join the Cupertino-based company. I know what poaching employees is, but you cannot convince me that, in this instance, it isn’t some kind of legal corporate espionage.

Following a grueling legal battle, the ITC found that Apple had indeed infringed on five Masimo patents related to light-based blood oxygen monitoring. As a result, it banned the import of Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 into the U.S.

After the Biden administration chose not to veto the ITC ruling, the ban was to take effect on December 26th. Apple, however, stopped selling the banned models on December 21st and 24th, respectively.

On December 26th, Apple filed an emergency request for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to halt the ban. The iPhone maker requested to be allowed to sell its products until the U.S. Customs and Border Protection determines whether the redesign is still infringing on Masimo’s patents. So, Apple was asking to halt the ban until January 12th as that’s when the customs office’s decision is due.

Apple’s argument here is that the ban will cause it “irreparable harm” due to the loss of sales. Analysts estimate this move could cost the company between $300-400 million in holiday sales. Even with this setback, Apple is projected to make about $120 billion in sales this quarter.

Funnily enough, retailers are allowed to keep selling the watches until their inventory runs out. So, for once, the little guy won’t get caught up in the middle of a corporate smackdown.

Wanna hear a joke? Apple’s appeal argues that not only is the ITC’s decision factually wrong but also Masimo does not sell a competing product in the US in significant quantities. Their argument boils down to: We are not guilty but even if we were, it’s okay because the other guy is not as successful.

What’s mindboggling, however, is that the headlines are all blaming the Biden administration for how things unfolded. What else do they want it to do? Give the $3 trillion company a get-out-of-jail-free card knowing they broke the law? Contrary to their business beliefs, this isn’t Monopoly. Isn’t it a bit of a stretch to be asking the President to openly favor you?

A bit too confident there, aren’t we, Apple?

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