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US trade tribunal issues potential Apple Watch import ban in Masimo patent fight

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on Thursday issued an order that could bar Apple from importing its Apple Watches after finding that the devices violate medical technology company Masimo’s patent rights.

The full commission upheld a judge’s ruling from January that Apple violated Masimo’s rights in light-based technology for reading biomarkers like heart rates and blood-oxygen levels.

President Joe Biden’s administration will have 60 days to decide whether to veto the import ban based on policy concerns before it goes into effect. Presidents have rarely vetoed bans in the past.

Apple can appeal the ban to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit after the review period ends.

Masimo’s complaint said that the infringing Apple Watches were made in China. Apple has since shifted some of its Apple Watch production to Vietnam.

The ITC case is part of an intellectual-property fight between Apple and health-monitoring technology company Masimo that spans several jurisdictions.

Irvine, California-based Masimo has accused Apple of stealing its technology and incorporating it into several Apple Watch models. A jury trial on Masimo’s allegations in California federal court ended with a mistrial in May.

Apple has separately sued Masimo for patent infringement in federal court in Delaware. It has called Masimo’s legal actions a “maneuver to clear a path” for its own competing smartwatch.

Apple is also facing an Apple Watch import ban in a separate patent dispute with medical technology company AliveCor. The ITC issued a ban in February but placed it on hold during related proceedings over the validity of AliveCor’s patents.

Apple’s wearables, home and accessory business, which includes the Apple Watch, AirPods earbuds and other products, earned the company $8.28 billion in revenue during the third quarter of 2023, according to a company report.

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