Apple v Masimo: Innovation in Tech

Written by Doris Wang on Thursday, 14 December 2023. Posted in Feature Article

Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash  

Apple is currently involved in a legal dispute against Masimo, which is a pulse oximetry company, over patent infringements related to the technology within their smartwatches. This dispute underscores growing complexities in the realm of intellectual property (IP) as tech giants navigate between innovation and patent rights.

In 2019, Kiami, the founder of Masimo, learned that Apple might be infringing on the technology that had taken so long to create. Kiami took legal action to protect his patents. The actions taken involved allegations of potential poaching of Masimo employees and the misappropriation of trade secrets. 

In October, the International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that Apple violated Masimo’s patents. As a result, an import ban was placed on recent models of Apple watches, set to take place on December 26. However, this ban is currently pending presidential review, and will not yet take immediate effect. Apple has an opportunity to appeal the decision after the 60-day review period, while Masimo is currently seeking over $1.8 billion in damages and co-ownership of certain Apple pulse oximetry patents.

Meanwhile, Apple is also facing an import ban over legal disputes with AliveCor, another medical technology company. The ban is also currently on hold and pending proceedings and was issued by the ITC in February. 

The ongoing legal disputes between an industry giant like Apple with Masimo and AliveCor is an example of the delicate interplay between innovation, IP rights, and corporate strategy in a highly competitive and rapidly evolving world. 

These legal battles show the importance of IP rights in tech, for companies like Masimo, patents represent a culmination of significant investment in research and development. These patents can protect the innovations of companies to provide a competitive edge in the market, guarding trade secrets or technology from other companies like Apple. 

The ongoing disputes between Apple and Masimo also demonstrate the strategic challenges that companies face in navigating IP laws. While innovation is critical to growth and competitive advantages in the tech sector, it also carries a risk of patent infringement lawsuits, which can lead to costly fees, potential bans, and damage to brand reputations.

The violation of Masimo’s patents on the part of Apple has both financial and ethical implications and serves as a cautionary tale for other businesses, highlighting the necessity of rigorous research and respect in IP matters. While competition drives innovation, these disputes reveal how aggressive competition can lead to legal conflicts, potentially stifling innovation or hindering the growth of new technology. 

Were teams to collaborate in cooperative partnerships, they may be able to mutually benefit and leverage one another’s strengths to co-develop new technology. Such collaboration could lead to a more sustainable and healthy industry, benefiting both businesses and consumers. Companies within the tech industry may take these legal disputes as encouragement for such collaboration, pushing the industry toward faster innovation.

About the Author

Doris Wang

Doris Wang

Doris is a Business Features Writer at Girls For Business.

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