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Apple Wins Temporary Reprieve in Smartwatch Import Ban Battle

US appeals court gave Apple a big victory by temporarily suspending a federal commission's import ban on certain Apple smartwatches.

A US appeals court granted Apple a significant victory on Wednesday by temporarily pausing a government commission’s import ban on select Apple smartwatches amidst a patent dispute with medical tech firm Masimo.

Tech Giant’s Emergency Appeal:

Apple swiftly filed an emergency request with the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to halt the order, contesting the US International Trade Commission’s (ITC) patent infringement ruling against Masimo.

Neither Apple nor Masimo representatives immediately commented on the court’s decision. However, Apple’s move to challenge the ban came after President Joe Biden’s administration opted not to veto it on December 26, allowing it to proceed.

Allegations and Impact:

Masimo accused Apple of luring away its employees and misappropriating its pulse oximetry technology for integration into Apple Watches. 

Consequently, the ITC imposed restrictions on the import and sale of Apple Watches equipped with blood-oxygen level reading technology, affecting models from Series 6 onwards.

Market Impact and Sales Strategy:

Apple responded by halting sales of affected models in the US, such as the Series 9 and Ultra 2. Despite this, the watches remained available through various retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Costco, and Walmart. The ban, however, doesn’t impact the sale of the Apple Watch SE or previously sold watches.

The legal confrontation between Masimo and Apple extends to multiple court battles, including a mistrial in a California federal court. Apple, in turn, sued Masimo for patent infringement in Delaware federal court. 

According to company reports, Apple’s wearables, home, and accessory segment, encompassing the Apple Watch and other products, generated $8.28 billion in revenue during the third quarter of 2023.

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