What seemed impossible a few weeks ago has come to pass: Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Apple Watch Series 9 sales have been banned in the US after the International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that the devices infringed patents owned by health company Masimo. While Apple is certainly not happy about this, AliveCor – another health company – praised the ITC’s decision since it also accuses Apple of violating its patents.
AliveCor also fights Apple over Apple Watch patents
In a statement to 9to5Mac, AliveCor says it supports Masimo in the case against Apple and praised both the Biden administration and the ITC for banning sales of some Apple Watch models in the US. AliveCor accused “industry giants” of “anti-competitive practices” that end up limiting access to “potentially life-saving technology.”
This is the second time in less than 12 months President Biden has allowed an International Trade Commission Limited Exclusion Order (LEO) to stand against imports of Apple Watches that violate the patents of small U.S. innovators. Earlier this year, AliveCor’s patent for its FDA-cleared personal electrocardiogram (ECG) technology was similarly affirmed and we share our support today for Masimo’s tenacity in its face off with Apple. Innovator companies and health consumers alike should be encouraged that industry giants are increasingly being held accountable for anticompetitive practices that would ultimately limit access to potentially life-saving technology.
Although the Apple Watch ban was due to the dispute between Apple and Masimo, AliveCor is fighting a similar dispute with Apple. In 2015, AliveCor showed Apple a prototype of an Apple Watch band with a built-in ECG sensor. While AliveCor was aiming for a deal with Apple, the Cupertino-based company launched its own ECG solution in 2018 with Apple Watch Series 4.
The healthtech company then accused Apple of stealing its technologies and sent a request to the ITC in 2021 to ban Apple Watch sales. AliveCor also filed an antitrust lawsuit alleging that Apple has been making it difficult for competitors to access the Apple Watch’s heart rate monitor with third-party apps.
Although the ITC also ruled in favor of AliveCor on patent infringements, the case never resulted in a ban on Apple Watch sales.
Apple Watch ban in the US
When it comes to Masimo, the company accuses Apple of not only infringing its patents related to the blood oxygen sensor, but also of stealing its technologies by hiring its engineers and key executives.
The Biden administration decided this morning not to reverse the ITC’s decision to ban sales of Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, since these models have the blood oxygen sensor. The only model that remains available in stores is the Apple Watch SE, which doesn’t have such a sensor.
Apple says it strongly disagrees with the ban and has been working on technical and legal solutions to bring the Apple Watch back to stores in the US. A Bloomberg report suggested that Apple may release a software update to circumvent two Masimo patents that are the basis of the ITC’s decision.
Customers can still find the banned Apple Watch models in stores like Amazon while supplies last.
FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.