Apple Watch ban could be avoided if only Apple was willing to talk, owner of the tech at the heart of a long-running patent battle hints — but its CEO isn't optimistic

Apple Watch Series 9 review
(Image credit: Future)

As Apple gets ready to pull its Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 from sale this week, the CEO of the company whose intellectual property it is accused of stealing says he would be willing to do a deal — if only Apple felt the same.

Apple's bombshell news that it will remove its best Apple Watches from sale by the end of the month comes as a deadline looms. The deadline by which the Biden administration can veto an International Trade Commission ban is just days away, and while Masimo's CEO believes Apple's move is a stunt to try and force the president's hand, he says that he would still be willing to talk to Apple about a potential settlement. Although he didn't get into details about how much money would need to change hands to make the matter go away.

Oh, and money isn't all that he wants. Masimo CEO Joe Kiani also wants Apple to say sorry for stealing its intellectual property in the first place as well as poaching some members of his team — sometimes even doubling their salaries to do so.

The ban hammer falls

The Apple Watch ban is making waves right now, and while Apple will remove both wearables from sale soon, other retailers like Amazon and Best Buy are currently unaffected. That will change should a ban on imports into the United States come into effect, however, at which point the Apple Watch could become increasingly rare.

For its part, Apple is reportedly working on a software fix that could get around the patent situation — a situation that has been threatening to come to a head for months now.  But we didn't need to get to this point, with Kiani saying that he is still willing to talk to Apple if a deal can be made. Speaking to Bloomberg, Kiani said that he would be willing to talk to Apple and “work with them to improve their product.” But he says that there has been no contact with Apple, adding that it "takes two to tango."

In fact, Kiani says that the last time he heard from Apple was back in 2013 when it wanted to acquire his company or hire him to help with Apple Watch development. Neither of those things happened, and while Apple still plans to appeal the ITC's decision, buying an Apple Watch Series 9 or Apple Watch Ultra 2 from Apple could be a thing of the past — at least temporarily. The Apple Watch SE remains unaffected because it doesn't have the blood oxygen sensing technology at the heart of this patent dispute.

As for the software fix that Apple is reportedly working on, Kiani doesn't expect that to help. “I don’t think that could work — it shouldn’t — because our patents are not about the software,” he told Bloomberg. “They are about the hardware with the software.”

A ticking clock

As the December 25 import ban deadline gets ever closer, all parties involved in this situation only have a limited amount of time in which to find a solution. It's thought the Biden administration might not want to get involved in a patent dispute between two American companies, even if one of them is Apple.

If that's the case, all eyes will be on Apple to come up with a way to keep Apple Watches on shelves, at least until its ITC appeal works its way through the courts.

Until then, there are at least still some ways to buy a new Apple Watch — but time's running out.

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Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

  • patchouliguy
    I'm an avid Apple product user, but there are times like these that I'm reminded of the chasm between the company who is environmentally concerned, is concerned about your mental & physical health, and the 2+ trillion dollar corporation who feels they can run roughshod over anyone or anything in their way. Apple deserves what they are getting on this. Yet, they will just buy themselves out of it, one way or the other.
    Reply