Apple Watch, the popular smartwatch that offers health and fitness features, may soon be banned from being imported and sold in the United States. This is due to a patent dispute with Masimo, a medical technology company that claims Apple infringed on its patents for measuring blood oxygen levels.
What is the patent dispute about?
Masimo filed a lawsuit against Apple in 2020, accusing the tech giant of stealing its trade secrets and violating its patents with the blood oxygen sensor in the Apple Watch Series 6 and later models. Masimo also alleged that Apple poached some of its key employees and copied its technology for its own watch.
The blood oxygen sensor, also known as a pulse oximeter, is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in the blood, which can indicate the health of the lungs and the heart. Masimo is a leader in this field, and its products are used in hospitals and clinics around the world.
Apple introduced the blood oxygen sensor as a new feature in the Apple Watch Series 6 in 2020, claiming that it can help users monitor their wellness and fitness. However, Apple also warned that the sensor is not intended for medical purposes and should not be relied upon for diagnosis or treatment.
What is the status of the case?
In January 2021, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), a federal agency that deals with trade disputes, ruled that Apple had infringed on one of Masimo’s patents related to light-based technology for reading blood oxygen levels. The ITC then ordered a ban on the import and sale of the Apple Watch models that violated the patent, subject to a 60-day presidential review.
The ban is set to take effect on December 25, 2023, unless President Biden decides to veto it. Presidents rarely overturn such bans, but they have the power to do so if they believe that the ban would harm the public interest or national security.
Apple has appealed the ITC’s decision, arguing that Masimo’s patent is invalid and that the ban would hurt millions of U.S. consumers who rely on the Apple Watch for health and fitness purposes. Apple also claimed that Masimo is trying to use the ITC to block a competitor and promote its own smartwatch that copies Apple’s design.
Masimo, on the other hand, welcomed the ITC’s decision, saying that it sends a powerful message that even the world’s largest company is not above the law. Masimo also said that the Apple Watch is not a lifesaving product, as it is not accurate or reliable enough for medical use.
What does this mean for you?
If the ban goes into effect, it means that Apple will not be able to import or sell the Apple Watch Series 6, the Apple Watch Ultra 2, and any other models that use the same blood oxygen sensor technology in the U.S. This could affect the availability and the price of the Apple Watch in the market, as well as the future development of the product.
However, the ban does not affect the Apple Watch models that do not have the blood oxygen sensor, such as the Apple Watch SE and the Apple Watch Series 3. It also does not affect the Apple Watch models that have already been imported or sold in the U.S. before the ban. If you already own an Apple Watch that has the blood oxygen sensor, you can still use it as normal, but you may not be able to get updates or repairs for it.
The ban also does not apply to other countries, where Apple can still import and sell the Apple Watch models that have the blood oxygen sensor. However, the patent dispute is not limited to the U.S., as Masimo has also filed lawsuits against Apple in other jurisdictions, such as Germany and the UK. Therefore, the outcome of the case may have global implications for the Apple Watch.
What can you do?
If you are interested in buying an Apple Watch that has the blood oxygen sensor, you may want to do it before the ban takes effect, as it may become harder or more expensive to get one after that. However, you should also be aware of the risks and limitations of the sensor, and not use it for medical purposes.
If you already have an Apple Watch that has the blood oxygen sensor, you can continue to use it, but you may want to keep an eye on the news and the updates from Apple regarding the ban and the appeal. You may also want to consider other options for measuring your blood oxygen levels, such as using a dedicated pulse oximeter device or consulting a doctor.
If you are concerned about the patent dispute and its impact on the Apple Watch, you can also voice your opinion to the White House, the ITC, or your representatives in Congress. You can also support or boycott Apple or Masimo, depending on your stance on the issue.
The Apple Watch ban is a complex and controversial issue that involves technology, law, and health. It is not clear how the case will be resolved, or what the consequences will be for Apple, Masimo, and the consumers. However, it is important to stay informed and make informed decisions about your health and wellness123456