Apple Can Temporarily Sell Watch Models After Appeals Win

Good news for Apple and CEO Tim Cook, after a US Appeals Court has paused the FTC import and sales ban on certain Apple Watch models.

Earlier this week Apple had filed an emergency motion so it could restart sales of two of its most popular Apple Watch models, amid a patent dispute with medical technology company Masimo over blood oxygen monitor technology.

Now Reuters has reported that Apple can temporarily sell the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, after a US appeals court on Wednesday paused a government commission’s import ban on the devices.

Select case and band combinations of Apple Watch Series 9 are Apple’s first-ever carbon neutral products.
Image credit Apple

Patent dispute

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) in October had ordered Apple to stop selling the Apple Watch models, which were introduced alongside the latest iPhone 15 range in September, 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 which 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, or in light of a potential government shutdown.

But last week the ITC rejected Apple’s motion, and Apple then said it would temporarily halt sales of its Series 9 and Ultra 2 smartwatches in the US, in order to comply with the legal order.

Apple Watch Ultra 2.
Image credit Apple

And to make matters worse, the White House declined to overturn the ITC sales and import ban of the Series 9 and Ultra 2 Apple Watches.

It should be remembered that Apple had benefited from the last one in 2013 when Barack Obama had vetoed an ITC ruling blocking the import of iPhone 4 and certain iPad models in a dispute with Samsung Electronics.

This week Apple filed an emergency request with the US Court of Appeals to halt the ITC order.

Apple asked it to pause the ban at least until US Customs and Border Protection decides whether redesigned versions of its watches infringe Masimo’s patents, and to put the ban on hold while the court considers Apple’s request.

The customs office is due to make its decision on 12 January 2024, Apple said.

Sales allowed

In a four-paragraph ruling on Wednesday, the appeals court said it would halt the ban while it considers Apple’s motion for a longer-term pause during the appeals process.

This means that Apple can, once again, sell its latest Apple Watch models.

“We are thrilled to return the full Apple Watch lineup to customers in time for the new year,” Apple was quoted by Reuters as saying 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.”

The court gave the ITC until 10 January to respond to Apple’s request.

Apple has said it is working on a range of legal and technical options.

Masimo declined to comment on the court decision, but its shares closed Wednesday 4.6 percent lower at $115.11 following the decision.

Apple shares closed flat at $193.15.

This is a high stakes patent infringement battle that could result in a hefty financial impact for either Apple or Masimo.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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