Apple may soon face restrictions on selling its Watch 9 and Watch Ultra 2 models in Australia following a loss in a patent infringement case in the United States. The dispute revolves around the use of light-based pulse oximetry technology, allowing these devices to measure users’ blood oxygen levels. This feature, introduced in 2020, saw a surge in Apple Watch sales amidst the COVID-19 pandemic’s concerns about blood oxygen levels.
The technology, contested by California companies Masimo Corporation and Cercacor Laboratories, alleged that Apple violated their patents. A judge supported their claim, leading to a series of appeals culminating in the US International Trade Commission’s decision upholding Masimo’s claim. This decision restricts Apple from selling the infringing products after a 60-day period, which expires on December 25.
Apple is now pulling these products from the US market and racing to develop a non-infringing alternative. Meanwhile, legal battles between Apple and Masimo continue. Masimo’s CEO sees this decision as a validation of their efforts to hold Apple accountable.
While the sales ban currently affects only the US market, there’s potential for it to extend to other countries, including Australia. Masimo has filed multiple patent applications, including one describing a wearable device for monitoring physiological parameters. This application, lodged in Australia, outlines a sensor designed for contact with the wearer’s skin, similar to the design of the Apple Watch.
According to patent lawyer Paul Massey, resolving this issue isn’t solely a software fix for Apple; it involves a high-stakes engineering effort. The ongoing conflict between these companies carries significant implications for smartwatch technology and intellectual property rights, with experts closely monitoring its impact on the industry’s future.