Apple fights ban on Apple Watch imports: Here’s what happens next

Apple fights ban on Apple Watch imports: Here’s what happens next

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Apple can no longer sell its latest Apple Watch models in the U.S. after losing a patent dispute before the International Trade Commission (ITC). 

The ban follows a years-long legal battle between Apple and the medical technology company Maismo. Here’s what to know about the ban and what happens next.

Masimo sues Apple in federal court, at ITC

Masimo initially sued Apple in federal court in 2020, accusing the iPhone maker of poaching employees and stealing trade secrets related to its light-based technology for measuring blood-oxygen levels.

The medical technology company also sued Apple for patent infringement at the ITC in 2021 over the Apple Watch Series 6, the first model to feature blood-oxygen monitoring capabilities.

Apple countersued in 2022, accusing Masimo of copying its technology.

Federal case ends in mistrial while ITC rules in favor of Masimo

A federal judge in California ultimately declared a mistrial in Masimo’s federal case in May, after jurors failed to reach a unanimous verdict.

However, an ITC judge ruled in favor of Masimo in January, prompting the full commission to decide whether to implement an import ban. The commission upheld the decision in late October, finding that Apple infringed on Masimo’s patent rights.  

Apple loses bid to delay ban, pulls Apple Watches from stores

Apple lost a last-ditch bid to delay the import ban Wednesday when the ITC rejected the tech giant’s request for a motion to stay the decision pending appeal.

The company pulled the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 from its stores Sunday in preparation for the ban.

Biden administration declines to overturn ban

The Biden administration declined to veto the ban Tuesday, letting it officially take effect.

The administration had 60 days to decide whether to veto the import ban. On Tuesday, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representatives issued a statement saying it would not intervene.

“Since 2005, the Office of the United States Trade Representative has been delegated the President’s authority under Section 337 of the Trade Act of 1930 to review the ITC’s decision for a 60-day period,” the statement read.

“After careful consultations, Ambassador Tai decided not to reverse the ITC’s determination and the ITC’s decision became final on December 26, 2023,” it continued.

Apple appeals decision, asks for immediate stay

Apple appealed the decision and filed an emergency motion for an immediate interim stay, as the ban went into effect Tuesday.

The tech giant argued that it will suffer “irreparable harm” if the ITC’s orders are left in place because Apple will be barred from importing and selling its “two most popular Apple Watch models.”

It urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to “at a minimum” grant a stay long enough for U.S. Customs and Border Protection to decide whether a redesigned version of the two Apple Watches falls outside the ITC’s orders. 

The agency is set to make a decision on Jan. 12.

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