The ongoing legal battle between health tech firm Masimo and Apple has intensified with the latest developments involving certain Apple Watch models. Joe Kiani, CEO of Masimo, recently discussed the dispute's details and implications during an interview with Bloomberg TV.
Kiani revealed that back in 2013, he had discussions with Apple about the potential acquisition of Masimo or hiring him. He expressed that the infringement of Masimo’s patent rights by Apple was a deliberate act rather than an accidental occurrence. Kiani accused Apple of hiring over 20 engineers from Masimo, asserting that his company was the original inventor and creator of the disputed technologies. He also mentioned that Masimo was open to a settlement with Apple, but this has yet to materialize.
This feud has led to a significant decision by the International Trade Commission (ITC), which ruled that Apple's use of blood-oxygen sensing in two of its Apple Watch models violated Masimo’s patents. Consequently, the commission proposed a ban on imports of the affected watches starting December 25, 2023. In response, Apple announced the withdrawal of the affected models from shelves before the deadline. Masimo views the ITC's decision as a testament to the principle that even powerful companies like Apple must abide by intellectual property rules.
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Apple has publicly disagreed with the ITC's ruling and is exploring various legal and technical options to ensure the continued availability of the Apple Watch to customers. If the order remains in effect, Apple plans to take all necessary steps to reintroduce the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to the U.S. market as soon as possible.
The dispute has put a spotlight on the Series 9 and Ultra 2 models of the Apple Watch, raising questions about their future availability. Meanwhile, Apple has countered Masimo’s claims, suggesting that Kiani initiated the patent violation case to benefit his smartwatch, which they allege is a replica of the Apple Watch.
This legal battle underscores the complexities of intellectual property rights in the tech industry and highlights the challenges companies face in protecting their innovations.