On Tuesday, a US International Trade Commission judge ruled that the Apple Watch illegally uses pulse oximetry technology patented by medical technology company Masimo. We’re talking about Apple watches that use optical sensors to measure blood oxygen saturation.
Masimo, which develops pulse oximeters, is embroiled in a long-running battle with Apple over certain health-monitoring technologies used by both the company and Apple, particularly in some Apple Watch models. Masimo is demanding that the sale of such models be banned in the United States.
Medical-grade blood oxygen saturation meters are one of Masimo’s core competencies. The corresponding function appeared in the Apple Watch from the Series 6 model and later. In June 2021, Masimo filed a lawsuit with the ITC seeking a ban on importing the Apple Watch Series 6 into the United States for patent infringement related to monitoring blood oxygen saturation and other indicators. There were four patents in all.
In a Tuesday decision, ITC concluded that Apple infringed only one patent and did not infringe the other rights listed in the lawsuit. Now the ITC has to decide whether the latest generation of Apple Watches will be subject to an entry ban. The final decision will be made on May 10th.
Masimo said that “pleased with Apple’s admission of infringement” and such a decision “should help restore fairness to the market”. The company stressed that Apple is also illegally using other companies’ proprietary technologies, so the ITC decision exposes Apple as a company that leverages others’ innovations “repack”. Apple itself did not agree with the decision and expected “full review” Commission decisions.
Masimo originally filed a lawsuit against Apple in January 2020, accusing the company of stealing trade secrets and misusing the medtech company’s inventions. Masimo previously claimed that Apple secretly poached its employees and used Masimo technology to develop sensors used in the Apple Watch.