Apple Watch import ban takes effect after Biden administration passes on veto

U.S. President Joe Biden's administration on Tuesday declined to veto a government tribunal's decision to ban imports of Apple Watches based on a complaint from medical monitoring technology company Masimo.

Publication: 26.12.2023 - 16:32
Apple Watch import ban takes effect after Biden administration passes on veto
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The U.S. International Trade Commission's (ITC) order will go into effect on Dec. 26, barring imports and sales of Apple Watches that use patent-infringing technology for reading blood-oxygen levels. Apple has included the pulse oximeter feature in its smart watches starting with its Series 6 model in 2020.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai decided not to reverse the ban following careful consultations, and the ITC's decision became final on Dec. 26, the Trade Representative's office said Tuesday.

Representatives for Apple and Masimo did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Apple will appeal the ban to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington. The ITC last week rejected Apple's request to pause the ban during the appeal process.

"Our litigation expert predicted that a potential Apple appeal would extend the 'final' ITC case verdict roughly another year," analysts at Stifel said in a note.

Apple has paused its sales of its Series 9 and Ultra 2 smartwatches in the United States since last week, though the watches remain available from other retailers including Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart as of Tuesday.

The ban does not affect Apple Watch SE, a less expensive model, which will continue to be sold. Previously sold watches will not be affected by the ban.

Masimo has accused Apple of hiring away its employees, stealing its pulse oximetry technology and incorporating it into the popular Apple Watch.

A jury trial on Masimo's allegations in California federal court ended with a mistrial in May. Apple has separately sued Masimo for patent infringement in federal court in Delaware and has called Masimo's legal actions a "maneuver to clear a path" for its own competing smart watch.

A presidential administration has not vetoed an ITC ruling since 2013, when President Barack Obama's administration overturned an import ban on Apple's iPhones and iPads in the company's patent dispute with Samsung.

The Biden administration in February chose not to veto a separate import ban on Apple Watches based on a patent-infringement complaint from medical technology company AliveCor. The ITC has placed the ban on hold for other reasons.

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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