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Apple Watch Series 6 ban sought by medical device manufacturer Masimo

Credit: Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

Medical technology company Masimo is escalating its legal battle with Apple, filing a complaint that seeks an import ban on Apple Watch models.

Masimo, which sued Apple in 2020 for alleged patent infringement and theft of trade secrets, filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission on Tuesday. The filing claims that the Apple Watch Series 6 infringes on five patents focused on technology that uses light to measure blood oxygen levels.

According to the complaint, which was spotted by Bloomberg, the blood oxygen sensing feature is core to Masimo's business and Apple is unfairly copying it.

Masimo also argues that the U.S. public won't be harmed if imports of the Apple Watch are halted because the device's pulse oximetry sensor isn't "essential to the public health or welfare."

"Apple heavily markets that feature of the Series 6 to give the watch the appearance of a medical device. Yet, hidden from the millions of purchasers of the Series 6, Apple warns in the fine print that the blood oxygen measurements should not be relied upon for medical purposes," Masimo wrote in the filing.

Apple has moved to dismiss parts of the case and filed petitions to invalidate certain parts of Masimo's intellectual property. The patents are currently being reviewed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

While the district court has put parts of the litigation on hold while the patent review is pending, the USITC won't delay consideration of the complaint. It typically completes a probe without 15 to 18 months.

Even if Apple files a petition to challenge patents in the ITC complaint, it's likely that the USPTO will decline them because the agency works so quickly in its reviews.

Masimo's previous lawsuit against Apple also targeted the Apple Watch Series 5, and claimed that recent Apple wearable devices infringe on patents related to features beyond pulse oximetry — including heart rate monitoring.

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