- Apple violated the law by importing Apple Watch devices with pulse oximetry capabilities, a judge at the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled.
- The case centers on patents owned by Masimo, an Irvine, Calif.-based maker of monitoring devices that accused Apple of infringing its intellectual property. In an initial determination, an ITC judge found Apple infringed two claims of a Masimo patent and thereby violated the Tariff Act.
- Apple said it disagreed with the decision, accusing Masimo of copying the Apple Watch and “trying to eliminate competition” from the market.
Three years ago, Masimo filed a complaint against Apple that accused the tech company of patent infringement and trade secret misappropriation. Since then, the two companies have been involved in a back-and-forth legal dispute involving the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the ITC. Masimo wants the ITC to enforce an exclusion order and issue a permanent cease-and-desist order against Apple.
Masimo came closer to that goal this week. While the ITC judge found no violation of the trade law with regard to four Masimo patents, she ruled that Apple infringed on two claims of a fifth patent. In doing so, Apple violated the Tariff Act, according to the initial determination.
It’s unclear whether that initial ruling will lead to the orders that Masimo is seeking against Apple. The ITC set a target completion date of April 19 for the investigation, Masimo said in November, and could change its position by the time it finalizes the determination. Equally, the commission could rule against Apple without immediately enforcing an import ban, the company said.
Apple’s fight with Masimo is proceeding in parallel to a dispute with AliveCor over the cardiac monitoring capabilities of the Apple Watch. The ITC recently ruled in favor of AliveCor but suspended the enforcement of an import ban pending a separate intellectual property decision.
Masimo CEO Joe Kiani referenced the broader intellectual property row involving Apple in a statement about the ITC ruling.
“Today’s decision should help restore fairness in the market,” Kiani said. “Apple has similarly infringed on other companies’ technologies, and we believe today’s ruling exposes Apple as a company that takes other companies’ innovations and repackages them.”
In an emailed statement, Apple accused Masimo of “attempting to take advantage of [Apple’s] many innovations by introducing a device that copies Apple Watch and infringes on our intellectual property,” and of “trying to eliminate competition from the market.” Apple said it is awaiting “a full review” of the judge’s decision by the ITC. Commissioners have the ability to set aside a decision by its own tribunal.
This article has been updated with a statement from Apple.