Good News for Apple Watch Fans: Import Ban Paused by US Appeals Court


Apple Watch Ultra

Last week, we reported that Apple will stop selling the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 in the U.S. Yesterday, there were reports that Apple has filed an appeal against the decision of the ITC. Now, the latest report on this matter is that Apple has a temporary victory.Ā Apple has won a reprieve from a US government commission’s import ban on its flagship smartwatches, following a patent dispute over its medical monitoring technology. The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has paused the ban, allowing Apple to resume sales of its Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2.

Apple Watch Ultra 2

The ban was imposed by the US International Trade Commission (ITC) in October, which ruled that Apple had infringed the patents of Masimo, a medical technology firm based in California. The ban did not affect the Apple Watch SE, a less-expensive model without a pulse oximeter. Previously sold watches also were not affected by the ban.

Background

The ITC had ordered Apple to stop selling the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 in September. It gave the order after finding the Apple Watches violated patents held by Masimo. The order was subject to a 60-day presidential review period that expired on 25 December. During this time, the Biden administration could have decided whether or not to veto it. Apple had made a motion to the ITC to temporarily halt the order while the case was under appeal. But last week the ITC rejected Appleā€™s motion, and Apple then said it would temporarily halt sales of its Series 9 and Ultra 2 smartwatches to comply with the legal order.

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The Appeals Court Decision

Apple filed an emergency request asking the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to halt the ITC’s order. The court gave the ITC until January 10 to respond to Apple’s request. Joe Biden’s administration declined to veto the ban on December 27, allowing it to take effect. However, the appeals court said it would halt the ban while it considers Apple’s motion for a longer-term stay.

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The patent dispute between Apple and Masimo is ongoing. A final decision could cost either company millions of dollars and potentially force a settlement. However, any financial hit for Apple is likely to be dwarfed by the bad publicity the lawsuit is generating. Apple’s wearables, home, and accessory business, which includes the Apple Watch, AirPods earbuds, and other products, brought in $8.28 billion in revenue during the third quarter of 2023, according to a company report. Masimo shares were down almost 5% following the decision, and Apple shares were almost flat.

“We are thrilled to return the full Apple Watch lineup to customers in time for the new year,” Apple said in a statement. “Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, including the blood oxygen feature, will become available for purchase again in the United States at Apple Stores starting today and from apple.com tomorrow by 12 pm PT.”

Final Words

The stay of execution given by the court is only temporary. The ITC will have to make a case for its ban before January 10th. The court will then rule after considering the arguments made by both parties. Joe Biden’s administration’s refusal to veto the ban implies that the presidency wants to stay out of this. This is expected because it is a tussle between two American companies, so there will likely be no special interest.

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