Apple Fails To Delay Apple Watch Import Ban

Apple’s motion to delay an impending Apple Watch import ban has been defeated, meaning only a last minute veto from the Biden Administration can prevent a pause in US sales of some of its wearable devices.

Earlier this week Apple had said it would temporarily halt sales of its latest Series 9 and Ultra 2 smartwatches in the US starting this week, so as to comply with a legal order.

This is in relation to a patent dispute with medical technology company Masimo over blood oxygen monitor technology.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 is carbon neutral when paired with a new Trail Loop (pictured) or Alpine Loop.
Image credit Apple

Sales ban

Apple this week had told Silicon UK that the company was “preemptively taking steps to comply” with the order, including pausing sales of the Series 9 and Ultra 2 from the Apple online store beginning Thursday, 21 December, and from Apple retail locations after Sunday 24 December.

Apple will still sell older models, that do not include the disputed blood oxygen Sp02 sensor that is at the centre of the dispute with Masimo.

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 they violated patents held by Masimo.

The order is subject to a 60-day presidential review period, expiring on 25 December, during which the administration can decide whether or not to veto it, but Apple said earlier this week it is taking steps toward compliance now in case the ruling should stand.

Apple meanwhile had made a motion to the ITC to temporarily halt the order while the case is under appeal, or in light of a potential government shutdown.

Motion denial

But now Apple has lost a bid to delay the impending Apple Watch import ban.

According to an International Trade Commission filing, the Commission voted on Wednesday 20 December to deny Apple’s motion.

“For the reasons discussed in the Commission Opinion issued concurrently herewith, the Commission has determined to deny Apple’s motion to stay the remedial orders pending appeal, and/or in light of a potential government shutdown, and it has done so without reliance on the materials of which Complainants requested the Commission take judicial notice,” the ruling states.

And a veto from the Biden Administration seems to be a long shot, as they are rare.

That said, Apple had benefited from the last one in 2013 when Barack Obama vetoed an ITC ruling blocking the import of iPhone 4 and certain iPad models in a dispute with Samsung Electronics.

Medical tech dispute

Whatever happens, Apple continues to sell the older Series 8 line of smartwatches, and the Watch SE, which do not include the disputed blood oxygen Sp02 sensor.

Apple Watch Series 8

And the Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches should remain available outside the US during the holiday season, including the Asian Lunar New Year season – which in 2024 falls in early February.

Masimo has previously alleged that Apple had hired its staff and stole its technology for the Apple Watch, while Apple countersued Masimo accusing the firm of legal manoeuvres aimed at clearing a path for a competing device.

In May, a jury trial on Masimo’s allegations in a California federal court ended in a mistrial.

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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