Home » Patent Dispute: U.S. regulators crack down on Apple watch sales in the U.S. market

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By Health IT Media

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Apple can no longer sell its newest smartwatches, the Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2, in the U.S. after President Biden declined to veto a product ban implemented by the International Trade Commission (ITC) that cited patent infringement.

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The ban, which came into effect recently, was implemented by the International Trade Commission in October to protect medtech company Masimo, which had sued Apple in 2020 for allegedly engaging in poaching its employees and stealing trade secrets related to technology that uses light to measure blood oxygen levels in the Apple Watch.

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President Biden had 60 days to review and rescind the ban that stopped Apple from selling its Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches. The review period lapsed on Christmas Day.

Apple has filed an appeal to lift the ban and asked for a stay until Customs and Border Protection could review its redesigned smartwatches, which do not include the technology in question, to see if they violated the medtech company’s patents.

“We strongly disagree with the USITC decision and resulting exclusion order, and are taking all measures to return Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the U.S. as soon as possible,” Apple said in a statement.

Apple unveiled its Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 at an event in September 2023 with new features allowing users to access and log their healthcare data and control the Watch using their index finger and thumb via blood-flow sensors.

The 2020 lawsuit filed by Masimo against the tech giant is not the only smartwatch legal battle between the companies.

In 2021, Masimo filed a separate complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission that aimed to take Apple Watches with blood oxygen sensors off the market.

In January, a judge issued a preliminary ruling that found Apple had infringed on one of Masimo’s patents.

Apple has also sued Masimo, arguing its W1 watches violate Apple’s patents and accusing Masimo of using lawsuits to remove competition from the Apple Watch.

Apple has also been fighting heart-monitoring tech company AliveCor over patent disputes. In 2022, the International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that Apple Watches with ECG functionality violated two patents held by AliveCor, and the Biden administration agreed to let the ruling stand. AliveCor is a healthcare technology company that specializes in developing mobile health solutions, particularly in the field of cardiology. The company is well-known for portable electrocardiogram (ECG) devices that enable people to monitor their heart health from the comfort of their homes or on the go. One of AliveCor’s flagship products is the KardiaMobile device, a small, portable ECG monitor that connects to a smartphone or tablet. The device allows users to record their ECG readings and share them with their healthcare providers for early detection of possible heart attacks.

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