Apple banned from selling smartwatches in US over medical technology patent infringement

Apple banned from selling smartwatches in US over medical technology patent infringement

Apple has been forced to stop selling the Apple Watch in the US this week after a landmark lawsuit claimed the tech giant stole technology that monitors users’ vitals.

The move comes after an order in October from the International Trade Commission (ITC) that could bar Apple from importing its Apple Watches after finding the devices violate medical technology company Masimo’s patent rights.

The White House had 60 days to review the ITC order issued on October 26, meaning Apple could have continued selling the Series 9 and Ultra 2 versions of its watch through Christmas.

However, Apple said on Monday that it planned to suspend sales of the watches for online customers on Thursday and from its stores on Sunday. It said the move was to ensure that it complied with the ITC order.

Apple pledged to “take all measures” to resume sales of the Series 9 and Ultra 2 models in the US as soon as possible if the ITC’s ban was not overturned.

The long-running legal dispute between Masimo and Apple is a David v Goliath battle that involved the world’s richest corporation and a rival a fraction of its size.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Apple met with Masimo more than a decade ago and discussed its technology that allowed a user’s blood oxygen levels to be read.

Joe Kiani, chief executive of Masimo, reportedly believed the companies were set for a partnership or perhaps his business would be bought by Apple and its chief executive, Tim Cook.

Instead, Masimo alleged that Apple began to hire its top talent who quickly started patenting similar technologies that they had previously worked on.

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While President Biden has the power to veto the ITC order, such interventions are rare.

“Maybe Apple’s board will ask Tim Cook, ‘Why didn’t you buy Masimo or license their technology in 2013? Did you even try to settle with Masimo before you took this step?’” Kiani told the Los Angeles Times. “That is a hope, but one that makes me feel better.”

Kiani believes he has already spent $60 million in legal fees battling Apple, but says he is willing to spend even more to protect his work.

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