Stanford Law Professor Warns: More Tech Bans Incoming After Apple Watch

Apple Watch Ban May Not Be the Last, Says Analysts

The recent ban on sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra models may not be the last, according to analysts. The ban came after a lawsuit from health tech company Masimo, which claimed that Apple stole trade secrets and infringed on 10 of its patents.

The International Trade Commission (ITC) upheld the ruling and imposed a ban on the import and sale of the Apple Watches. While the ban doesn’t officially take effect until December 25, Apple decided to withdraw the devices from sale ahead of the deadline.

Stanford University law professor Mark Lemley warned that more clashes between consumer electronics and health tech could occur in the future. He described these legal battles as “a very expensive game of chicken” with unpredictable and dramatic results.

The unpredictability of these cases was highlighted by a similar lawsuit from health tech company AliveCor. The company claimed that Apple’s ECG sensor in the Apple Watches infringed on its patents, but Apple successfully had the patents declared invalid, avoiding the ban on its products.

Analysts suggest that the convergence of consumer electronics and health tech could lead to more patent clashes. The collision of different intellectual property regimes when digital technology moves into new markets could result in more lawsuits and unpredictable outcomes.

The Financial Times likened this situation to the early days of smartphones, which saw a barrage of lawsuits between computing and mobile technology companies. Richard Waters of the Financial Times believes that similar clashes will occur as digital technology invades new markets, such as healthcare.

As the legal battles continue, it remains to be seen if the Apple Watch ban will be the last of its kind. The potential for high-stakes outcomes and the collision of different intellectual property regimes may lead to more legal battles in the future.