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Apple Appeals US Watch Import Ban: Challenges Biden Administration’s Decision

Apple is facing a significant challenge as it appeals a decision to ban the import of its watches, a consequence of a dispute with medical monitoring technology company Masimo. 

The ban, resulting from a complaint filed by Masimo, has prompted Apple to seek urgent intervention from the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. 

Seeks Suspension of Ban on Watch Sales Amidst Masimo Patent Dispute

This development comes after the Biden administration opted not to veto the ban, and Apple is now urgently pushing to halt the prohibition.

Masimo has accused Apple of hiring its employees, misappropriating pulse oximetry technology, and integrating it into the popular Apple Watch. 

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) issued an order prohibiting the import and sale of Apple Watches incorporating blood-oxygen level reading technology, specifically targeting watches featuring the pulse oximeter feature introduced in the Series 6 model in 2020.

In response to the ban, Apple has filed an emergency request with the Federal Circuit, urging them to suspend the prohibition until the US Customs and Border Protection assesses redesigned watch versions for potential patent infringement. 

Apple emphasized the importance of putting the ban on hold during this evaluation period, with a Customs decision expected on January 12.

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai made the decision not to reverse the ban after thorough consultations. 

The ITC’s ruling, issued on December 26, marked the finalization of the ban. Apple expressed strong disagreement with the decision and is actively pursuing measures to expedite the return of affected watches to US customers.

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Apple Weighs Options to Challenge Ban in Dispute Resolution

Apple is facing a significant challenge as it appeals a decision to ban the import of its watches, a consequence of a dispute with medical monitoring technology company Masimo.

While companies often resolve such disputes through settlements, Apple appears poised to challenge the ban, possibly relying on quick design adjustments or feature removal. 

The ITC’s exclusion order, while not legally extraordinary, gains significance due to the prominence of the Apple Watch. 

Despite the ITC rejecting Apple’s request to pause the ban during the appeal, Apple remains steadfast in its appeal to the Federal Circuit.

The ban affects Apple’s Series 9 and Ultra 2 smartwatches, prompting Apple to halt sales of these models in the US. 

Other retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart, continue to offer these watches. Notably, the ban does not impact the Apple Watch SE, a less-expensive model, and previously sold watches are unaffected.

The Apple-Masimo dispute adds a layer of complexity to the competitive wearables market. As Apple navigates legal challenges, the outcome will have implications not only for the company but also for the broader tech industry. 

The appeal process will be closely watched, and its resolution may shape future interactions between tech giants and medical technology innovators.

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