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Apple challenges U.S. ban on popular smartwatches

Apple has submitted an appeal to the International Trade Commission (ITC) in an effort to overturn the ban on the sale of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 in the United States, as per court records. The company is also seeking an urgent stay on the ban until a determination is made regarding proposed modifications to both smartwatch models.

One day after the initial publication of this story, the appeals court granted a temporary stay on the ban. The court has mandated that the ITC respond to Apple’s request for an extended pause during the appeals process by January 10.

In a statement to Reuters, Apple asserted that it is employing every possible measure to reintroduce the smartwatches to U.S. retail shelves. The appeal constitutes just one facet of this effort. The issue reached President Biden, although Apple’s hopes for a veto were not realized. Despite the ban officially taking effect today, Apple initiated the removal of smartwatches from both its online and physical stores last week.

In the latest filing, Apple contends that it would suffer “irreparable harm” if the ban persists. The Exclusion Order Enforcement Branch of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is slated to make a decision on Apple’s redesigned versions of the smartwatches on January 13.

The origin of this situation traces back to the International Trade Commission’s (ITC) ruling, which determined that Apple had infringed on patented blood oxygen saturation tracking technology owned by the health tech firm Masimo. In response, Apple hurriedly issued a software fix to address the issue before facing a potential ban. However, the ITC and Masimo concluded that the problem lies in the hardware, specifically the sensor, making software fixes insufficient. Consequently, Apple is actively working on redesigning the sensors for the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2.

The legal dispute began in 2021 when Masimo filed a lawsuit against Apple, alleging patent violations related to patient monitoring and accusing Apple of recruiting employees with advanced knowledge of blood oxygen monitoring capabilities. There is a possibility that the two companies could reach a financial settlement to resolve the matter.

For consumers seeking stylish wrist accessories, it’s important to note that the ban only affects the sale of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 in the United States. These smartwatches are still available for purchase in other parts of the world. Additionally, consumers in the U.S. can buy them from third-party retailers until the existing stock runs out. However, direct purchases from Apple are not an option due to the ban.

Given that Apple Watch sales constitute approximately half of the entire smartwatch market, the company’s assertion of “irreparable harm” highlights the significant impact of the ban on its business.

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