Apple Watch Import Ban Set To Be Lifted

Published on January 16, 2024

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has recently declared that the redesigned Apple Watch from Apple is not subject to an import ban, as disclosed in a court filing on Monday.

Image: Apple

This import ban had been imposed by the US International Trade Commission (ITC) and primarily affected Apple’s current Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches. The ban stemmed from an ongoing patent infringement dispute with Masimo, a company specializing in medical-monitoring technology.

The ITC had initially prohibited Apple from importing and selling Apple Watches equipped with technology for monitoring blood-oxygen levels. This action was based on allegations that these devices infringed upon two patents held by Masimo. Notably, Apple has introduced a pulse oximeter feature in its smartwatches since the release of the Series 6 Apple Watch back in 2020.

Following the ITC’s decision, Apple temporarily suspended the sales of its latest Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches in the United States just before Christmas. However, these watches continued to be available through other US retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Costco, and Walmart.

The ban officially took effect on December 26th. Yet, Apple successfully persuaded a US appeals court to temporarily halt the ban the very next day. As a result, Apple resumed selling the watches while it contested the import ruling.

Apple had argued that a proposed redesign of the watches would address the issues raised by Masimo’s patent infringement claims. Apple has not publicly disclosed the specifics of this redesign, leaving room for speculation that it may involve updates to the watches’ software.

It’s important to note that the customs agency’s decision may still be subject to review by the ITC, and the outcome could potentially override CBP’s determination.

In the ongoing legal battle, Masimo accuses Apple of both poaching its employees and appropriating its pulse oximetry technology for use in its Apple Watches. In response, Apple has countersued, characterizing Masimo’s legal actions as an attempt to clear a path for its own competing smartwatch.

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