The Patent Fight That Could Take Apple Watches Off the Market

Peter Coy, in a subscriber-only column for The New York Times (I’m using a gift sharing link, which I hope works for all of you):

Apple Inc. sells a lot of smart watches during the holidays, but this year its sales of most Apple Watch models may well drop 100 percent — to literally zero — the day after Christmas.

That’s because of a ruling Thursday by the International Trade Commission that most Apple Watches contain parts that infringe on patents held by Masimo Corp., a producer of medical technology, and its sister company, Cercacor Laboratories Inc., both of Irvine, Calif. An import ban and a cease-and-desist order on sales both take effect on Dec. 26 — unless President Biden reverses the decision by Dec. 25, which appears unlikely. (Presidents rarely overrule the independent, nonpartisan agency, which was founded in 1916 as the U.S. Tariff Commission.) [...]

Apple declined to provide an executive to speak on the record. The company’s position is that Masimo is pursuing a strategy of litigation over innovation, hoping to generate a fresh stream of royalties because royalties from past litigation have dried up. Apple points out that the federal jury that deadlocked in May was 6-to-1 for Apple, indicating that Masimo was a long way from making its case.

This fight is far from over. “My goal isn’t just to beat Apple,” Kiani told me in an interview last summer. “It’s to get Apple to change its ways.”

One way or another, I expect Apple Watch to remain available for sale in the U.S. But that deadline is just two months away.

Tuesday, 31 October 2023