SPI Digital Health: As Apple Watch Saga Twists and Turns, a Blurring of Lines Comes into Sharper Focus

Published: January 19, 2024

A day is a long time in intellectual property (IP) disputes it seems. Only yesterday Apple was once again banned from selling its Series 9 and Ultra 2 smart watches in the US. This came as a challenge relating to misappropriation of the watch models’ pulse oximetry technology, lodged last year by medical device maker Masimo, took yet another twist in the courts. 

It’s been an on-off saga in the last few weeks. In October the US International Trade Commission (ITC) found that Apple had infringed two of Masimo’s patents. After a 60-day review period the ITC made a final decision on 26 December to ban Apple from importing and selling the Series 9 and Ultra 2 models, which feature pulse oximetry sensor IP. In anticipation of the ban, Apple pulled the two models from its stores just before 26 December. Days later, a federal appeals court granted Apple a temporary pause on the ban. On 17 January the ban was upheld, and yesterday (18 January) Apple started selling watches without the blood oxygen sensors feature.

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