Apple Resumes Sales Of Smartwatches After U.S. Appeal Court Victory

 

Apple has been given the green light to restart the sales of its popular smartwatches, following the decision of a U.S. appeals court to temporarily halt an import ban on the devices.

The ban had been imposed by a government commission as a result of a patent dispute over the medical monitoring technology used in the watches. The commission had argued that the technology violated a patent belonging to a rival company, Masimo.

However, the court has granted a reprieve to Apple, allowing the company to continue selling the watches until the dispute is resolved.

“We are thrilled to return the full Apple Watch lineup to customers in time for the new year.

“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 p.m. PT,” Apple said in a statement on Wednesday.

The tech giant had filed an emergency request asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to halt the ban ordered by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).

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

A final decision could cost either the company millions of dollars and potentially force a settlement or some kind of technological workaround by Apple, analysts said.

The ITC barred imports and sales of Apple Watches with technology for reading blood oxygen levels. Starting with its Series 6 model in 2020, Apple included a pulse oximeter feature in its smartwatches.

Masimo has accused Apple of hiring away its employees, stealing its pulse oximetry technology, and incorporating it into Apple Watches. Apple has countersued, calling Masimo’s legal actions a “manoeuvre to clear a path” for its competing smartwatch.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration declined to veto the ban on Tuesday, allowing it to take effect. Apple asked for a pause on the ban later that day. It said it is working on a range of legal and technical options.

On Tuesday, the company told the court that U.S. Customs and Border Protection is considering whether redesigned versions of its watches infringe Masimo’s patents and can be imported. The customs agency has set a target date of Jan. 12 for its decision, Apple said.

Apple had paused sales of the affected devices from its website and retail locations last week in the United States due to the ITC decision.

The ban did not affect the Apple Watch SE, a less-expensive model without a pulse oximeter. Previously-sold watches were also not affected by the ban.

A jury trial on Masimo’s allegations against Apple in a California federal court ended with a mistrial in May.

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.

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