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Apple Watches suffer massive L – Biden administration upholds ban

It has been a disastrous holiday for Apple. At least, the company has filed to overturn the Apple Watch ban.

Apple Watch Series 9 in purple background
Image: KnowTechie

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It’s not a good holiday season for Apple’s wearable department. The company is already deep in muddy water with the Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 ban, and things got even worse. 

The Biden administration has decided not to challenge the decision of the government tribunal that placed an import ban on the latest Apple Watches

The incident follows an ongoing dispute between Apple and medical tech company Masimo. 

Masimo, for years, has claimed that Apple’s wearable devices are copying its patented method of reading blood oxygen levels, which began with the Apple Watch Series 6 launched in 2020.

In turn, Masimo is seeking damages from way back when Apple Watches first introduced the disputed feature.

According to the International Trade Commission’s order on December 26, the Apple Watch sales ban came into effect just a week before Christmas, closing shop for its fitness wearable during this key holiday season.

Which Apple Watches are affected?

apple watch ultra series 2 on a purple background
Image: KnowTechie

Apple may have been hoping for a precedential veto, similar to what happened during the Obama administration back in 2013. But that didn’t happen.  

The latest Apple Watch SE dodges the sales ban bullet, as it does not include the disputed blood oxygen reading feature.

A few older generation Apple Watch models also remain available for purchase, as they lack this specific tracking capability.

For now, these unaffected devices are the only Apple Watch games in town – all other models face blocked sales due to the recent ruling.

When did this all start?

According to a report by Bloomberg, Masimo accuses Apple of poaching its employees and using their knowledge of Masimo’s patented health monitoring technology to develop the Apple Watch.

Masimo filed a lawsuit in January 2020 alleging that Apple had stolen trade secrets and infringed on its patents. The case is still ongoing.

This alleged insider intel gave Apple the means to reverse engineer Masimo’s patented features, claims the legal sparring partner. The implications spotlight a behind-the-scenes look at the ruthless business tactics as the Apple/Masimo patent fight heats up.

Meanwhile, Apple is also suing Masimo for a different patent infringement, and the company is even saying that Masimo’s complaints are an attempt to prepare the market for its own wearable device.

That said, Apple’s fight with Masimo doesn’t end here. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and Apple definitely has more plans in its store. 

The future of the Apple Watch remains a question mark

According to a statement to Reuters, Apple stated,

“We strongly disagree with the USITC decision and resulting exclusion order, and are taking all measures to return Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the U.S. as soon as possible.”

On the other hand, a spokesperson from Masimo has mentioned the ITC decision as a win for the company that keeps the integrity of the US patent system. 

Ultimately, it doesn’t change the fact that we are still at a crossroads. You still won’t be able to purchase the latest Apple Watches from online or offline stores in the US this holiday season.  

However, Apple has filed a motion to grant an immediate stay of the orders. According to the filing,

“The Exclusion Order Enforcement Branch of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is scheduled to decide on January 12, 2024 whether a redesigned version of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2—which—falls outside the scope of the Commission’s remedial orders. At a minimum, the Court should grant a stay long enough for Customs to make this decision.”

In addition, it also said, “Apple will suffer irreparable harm if the Orders are left in place….”

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Saurav loves writing and tech. So, after engineering, he didn't look back and embarked on a journey to become a tech writer. Saurav has worked for various tech websites across the globe. Saurav has recently joined Know Techie and is proud to be a part of it.

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