Apple challenges Watch import ban following Masimo’s patent complaint

apple watch ban

WEB DESK: Apple, the renowned manufacturer of iPhones and Apple Watches, has taken legal action to challenge the ban on imports of its watches.

The ban resulted from a complaint lodged by medical monitoring technology company Masimo. This move comes after US President Joe Biden’s administration chose not to intervene in the decision made by a government tribunal.

On Tuesday, Apple filed an appeal and simultaneously submitted an emergency request to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, seeking to halt the ban.

The tech giant is urging the Federal Circuit to postpone the ban, at least until US Customs and Border Protection assesses whether redesigned versions of its watches violate Masimo’s patents.

Apple is also requesting the court suspend the ban during the consideration of its appeal. US Customs and Border Protection is expected to make a decision on this matter on January 12, according to Apple.

Masimo has accused Apple of poaching its employees, stealing pulse oximetry technology, and incorporating it into the popular Apple Watch.

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) order, issued on December 26, prohibits the import and sale of Apple Watches using technology for reading blood oxygen levels.

This feature was introduced in Apple’s smartwatches, starting with the Series 6 model in 2020.

Despite Apple’s strong disagreement with the USITC decision, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai decided not to reverse the ban after careful consultations.

An Apple spokesperson confirmed that the company has appealed the ban to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington.

The company expressed its commitment to taking all necessary measures to swiftly return the affected Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to US customers.

In response to the ITC decision, a Masimo spokesperson hailed it as “a win for the integrity of the US patent system and ultimately American consumers.”

While companies typically settle such disputes, Apple seems determined to navigate the legal process.

Legal experts suggest that Apple might believe it can swiftly design around the patents or remove the infringing feature.

The ITC rejected Apple’s request to pause the ban during the appeals process last week. Stifel analysts predict that a potential Apple appeal could extend the final ITC case verdict by roughly another year.

Apple has already halted sales of its Series 9 and Ultra 2 smartwatches in the United States, but they remain available through other retailers, including Amazon (AMZN.O), Best Buy (BBY.N), and Walmart (WMT.N).

It’s important to note that the ban does not affect the Apple Watch SE, a less-expensive model, and previously sold watches remain unaffected.

According to Reuters, the ongoing legal battle includes a mistrial in a California federal court in May and Apple’s separate patent infringement lawsuit against Masimo in a federal court in Delaware.

The Biden administration’s decision not to veto the ITC ruling follows a trend since 2013, when President Barack Obama’s administration overturned an import ban on Apple’s iPhones and iPads in the company’s patent dispute with Samsung.

Earlier in February, the Biden administration also chose not to veto a separate import ban on Apple Watches based on a patent-infringement complaint from medical technology company AliveCor.

Despite these legal challenges, Apple’s wearables, home, and accessory businesses, which include the Apple Watch, AirPods earbuds, and other products, reported an impressive $8.28 billion in revenue during the third quarter of 2023, according to a company report.

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