Apple sued by medical device maker over Apple Watch Series 6 pulse oximetry

Sometimes it seems like every time we turn around, someone is suing Apple. The latest lawsuit against Apple comes from a medical device manufacturer called Masimo. Masimo is a large manufacturer of medical-grade pulse oximeters used in the hospital and other medical settings. A pulse oximeter is a device that shows how much oxygen is in the blood of the user, which has value for numerous medical reasons.

One of the key features of the Apple Watch Series 6 was its ability to show users their blood oxygen levels during the day and while they sleep. Showing oxygen levels while you sleep was particularly important because low oxygen levels during sleep can be linked to sleep apnea. Masimo this week filed a patent infringement lawsuit with the United States International Trade Commission, asking it to block the import of the Apple Watch Series 6.

Masimo says the watch infringes on five patents it holds related to blood oxygen monitoring. This isn't the first lawsuit that Masimo has made against Apple. It filed one in January 2020, accusing Apple of stealing trade secrets and improperly using its inventions. The patents Masimo holds are currently under investigation by the US Patent and Trademark Office after Apple alleged they don't cover new inventions. Currently, that lawsuit is on hold until the investigation is completed.

Masimo alleges in its new lawsuit that by getting the original suit delayed, Apple is attempting to sell more Watches that violate Masimo patents. The patent office told Masimo to file a lawsuit with the ITC where the investigation wouldn't be delayed. In that past lawsuit, Masimo alleged that Apple poached employees and used its patented technology to develop sensors used in the Apple Watch.

The healthcare company also claims that banning the Apple Watch will not impact the public because it's not essential to public health or welfare. Whether or not the ITC agrees with that claim remains to be seen. The Apple Watch is likely the most prolific pulse oximeter in the hands of consumers today. It has functionality you can't get outside of some medical-grade devices, such as the ability to monitor oxygen levels repeatedly during sleep.