The US International Trade Commission (USITC) has halted the import of certain Apple devices in the country after the company’s pulse oximetry function infringed copyright.
It comes after the tech giant was brought before the commission by medical technology firm, Masimo, alleging that Apple had infringed on their US patents for light-based technology to measure blood oxygen saturation.
Now, the commission has called for a freeze on the sale of Apple products displaying the feature, whilst the California-based firm seeks to challenge the ruling at the federal level.
The ruling reads: “The Commission has determined to issue a limited exclusion order prohibiting the unlicensed entry of infringing wearable electronic devices with light-based pulse oximetry functionality and components thereof covered by certain claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 10,912,502 or 10,945,648 that are manufactured by or on behalf of, or imported by or on behalf of, respondent Apple, Inc.”
The ruling was also accompanied by a cease-and-desist notice. It comes after Masimo sued Apple in a California court earlier in the year, alleging the company had stolen trade secrets pertaining to light-based technology to measure blood oxygen saturation. However, on 1 May of this year, the case was closed after a jury failed to reach a verdict.
Joe Kiani, founder of Masimo, said “This important determination is a strong validation of our efforts to hold Apple accountable for unlawfully misappropriating our patented technology. Today’s ruling by the USITC sends a powerful message that even the world’s largest company is not above the law.”
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As part of the US Trade Commission’s research on the matter, various US stakeholders in the market were given space to comment.
The Consumer Federation of America said: “There is no greater offence to both the antitrust and intellectual property law than when a dominant firm infringes the patent of a smaller rival, who is an actual or potential competitor.
“In this case, as in the other cases involving Apple’s egregious abuse of market power, the harms far outweigh the benefits. In fact, because competition will swiftly replace any services or products that Apple is no longer able to deliver because of the remedy, there will be little harm and a great deal of benefit for consumers and the economy.”
Apple has said that it intends to appeal the decision. Additionally, the US federal government under Joe Biden has 66 days to review the order and decide on whether or not it should be permitted to stand.