Biden's facing the clock to veto Apple Watch import ban after ITC patent ruling

I'll huff and I'll puff and Masimo will blow your sales down

The Apple Watch is once again facing a possible US import ban again after the country's International Trade Commission determined the wearable violated patents held by Masimo for measuring blood oxygen levels.

The limited exclusion order issued on Thursday would prevent the iGiant from bringing Apple Watches with the infringing tech into America after a 60-day Presidential review period lapses and appeals have been exhausted. Since Biden will almost certainly not veto the ITC's decision, it's likely that Apple will appeal again before the ban comes into effect. So don't panic, breath deeply, and proceed.

The technology in question showed up with the launch of the Apple Watch Series 6, which integrated sensors on the back of the device to measure the user's blood oxygen level. The sensor has been present on all Series and Ultra editions of the wearable since, but is notably absent on Apple's entry-level SE models.

In a statement on Thursday, Masimo CEO Joe Kiani welcomed the decision arguing that the "ruling by the USITC sends a powerful message that even the world's largest company is not above the law."

"This important determination is a strong validation of our efforts to hold Apple accountable for unlawfully misappropriating our patented technology."

Should the ITC order go into effect, Apple would no longer be able to bring devices with light-based pulse oximetry functionality into the US or produce new devices using the technology, presumably without licensing the pertinent tech from Masimo first.

It's worth noting that the order does make exceptions for service or repair claims made under warranty for devices purchased prior to the order going into effect. And, of course, Apple Watches that lack pulse oximetry sensors, like the SE, won't be restricted.

The Register asked Apple for comment; we'll let you know if we hear back.

This isn't the first time Apple's sensor-packed wearable has come under fire for alleged patent infringements. Back in February, the Biden Administration elected not to veto an earlier ITC order which found Apple had violated patents held by AliveCor. In that case, the offending tech was related to the electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor also found on Series and Ultra Apple Watch models.

However, the efficacy of AliveCor's patents have been called into question. The US Patent and Trademark Office's Trial and Appeal Board concluding late last year that AliveCor didn't have a case against Apple — a decision the company later appealed. ®

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