Apple Watch faces potential import ban over patent dispute with Masimo

The judge's ruling sends the matter to the full U.S. International Trade Commission for review

An intellectual property dispute could lead to an import ban on an Apple Watch model that has been found to violate a patent belonging to Masimo Corp.

In January, an administrative judge of the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) issued an initial ruling in favor of Masimo that found the Apple Watch Series 6 infringed twice on one of Masimo's five patents for using light sensors to gauge blood oxygen levels in the watch's pulse oximeter. The judge found no violations regarding Masimo's claims that four of its other patents were infringed.

The case now goes before the full commission, which has the power to enforce an import ban on products that violate intellectual property rights. A decision by the full ITC on the dispute between Apple and Masimo may come this spring.

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Apple Watches

The Apple Watch Series 8 on sale at the company's Fifth Avenue store in New York on Sept. 16, 2022. (Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via / Getty Images)

Masimo has requested that the ITC enforce an exclusion order, which would block imports of offending Apple Watch products, in addition to a cease and desist order. Masimo also requested a bond be set during a 60-day presidential review period amounting to "100% of the value" of the infringing products "because those products are harming the public's perception of pulse oximetry."

In the initial ruling, ITC administrative law Judge Monica Bhattacharyya wrote that she "recommends that the Commission issue a limited exclusion order directed to Apple's importation of infringing wearable electronic devices with light-based pulse oximetry functionality and components thereof."

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Tim Cook Apple Watch

CEO Tim Cook introduces the new Apple Watch capable of taking an FDA-approved electrocardiogram at the company's annual product launch, Sept. 12, 2018, in Cupertino, California. (Karl Mondon/Digital First Media/The Mercury News via / Getty Images)

She also wrote that because of Apple's "significant" commercial inventory and domestic operations that a cease and desist order be issued against Apple and that the "current evidence of record does not support the service, repair, and replacement exemption requested by Apple."

Judge Bhattacharyya declined to grant Masimo's request for a bond amounting to "100% of the value" of the offending products, writing that the company "failed to establish the need for a bond in this investigation" because the evidence didn't show a Masimo Watch product available for sale to consumers, and it isn't clear that the alleged harm to public perception injured the company.

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Apple logo on Apple Store

The Apple logo adorns the facade of the downtown Brooklyn store in New York on March 14, 2020. (Kathy Willens, File / AP Newsroom)

Following the initial ruling, an Apple spokesperson said, "We respectfully disagree with today's decision and look forward to a full review by the Commission."

A spokesperson for Masimo told FOX Business in a statement, "Masimo will continue to fight for fair competition, respect for intellectual property rights, and will continue to develop new innovations to improve lives."

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The ITC's consideration of the dispute between Apple and Masimo comes after the commission ruled in December that Apple Watch infringed on AliveCor's patent for electrocardiogram (ECG) technology in smartwatches that contain pulse oximeters.

In the AliveCor case, the ITC issued a limited exclusion order, a cease and desist order and set a bond amounting to $2 per unit of infringing Apple Watches sold during the 60-day presidential review period.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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AAPL APPLE INC. 192.05 -0.30 -0.16%
MASI MASIMO CORP. 126.09 +1.57 +1.26%