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Apple faces demand to bar its watch from US as patent fight widens

Medical technology company Masimo Corp has stepped up its legal fight against Apple, filing a patent-infringement complaint at the US International Trade Commission that seeks to halt imports of the Apple Watch.

Apple’s Series 6 smartwatch infringes five patents for devices that use light transmitted through the body to measure oxygen levels in blood, Masimo said in a complaint filed at the Washington agency. The patented technology is key to Masimo’s core business and Apple is unfairly copying the features, the company claims.

Masimo, which develops signal-processing technology for health-care monitors, and its spinoff, Cercacor Laboratories, first sued Apple in January 2020, accusing it of stealing trade secrets and improperly using Masimo inventions related to health monitoring in its Apple Watch.

Masimo says he public won’t be harmed if the Apple smartwatch is kept from the US market as it’s not an essential health device.

Masimo says he public won’t be harmed if the Apple smartwatch is kept from the US market as it’s not an essential health device.

The patents in the federal case are being reviewed by the US Patent and Trademark Office after Apple argued they didn’t cover new inventions. The judge put that aspect of the case on hold until the reviews are completed.

Unlike a district court, the trade agency won’t delay consideration of the patent complaint and it typically completes investigations in 15 to 18 months. Conversely, if Apple decides to challenge these patents as well, the patent office is likely to decline any request for a review because the ITC works so quickly.

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The dispute is likely to end in a settlement that could net Masimo between $US50 million ($67 million) and $US300 million a year in royalties, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Tamlin Bason said in a note on Tuesday. Masimo reported $US1.14 billion in sales last year.

Apple denies that it stole any trade secrets or infringed the patents in the earlier case. Company officials didn’t immediately respond to queries seeking comment on the new case. The unit that includes sales of Apple Watch reported $US30.6 billion in revenue in fiscal 2020.

As part of its ITC complaint, Masimo said the public won’t be harmed if the Apple smartwatch is kept from the US market because the pulse oximetry feature is “not essential to the public health or welfare.”

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