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Apple Watch Backflip: Banned, Unbanned, Now Available!

The Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 wearables are once again available for purchase directly from the manufacturer. This decision follows a temporary pause granted by a federal appeals court in Washington D.C., lifting an import and sales ban. However, the reprieve is temporary, and the ban may be reinstated on January 10, pending the International Trade Commission’s decision on whether to grant Apple a more extended pause.

Another critical date is January 13, when the same agency will decide on Apple’s redesign of both smartwatches. The initial ban lasted just over a day and primarily affected consumers buying directly from Apple, as third-party retailers continued to offer the devices.

Apple expressed satisfaction with the temporary stay, stating to Engadget that it is “pleased the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has stayed the exclusion order while it considers our request to stay the order pending our full appeal.”

The underlying legal dispute involves a lawsuit by medical technology company Masimo, claiming that the blood oxygen sensors in newer Apple Watch devices infringe on two patents. Masimo also accused Apple of stealing trade secrets and recruiting its employees.

The International Trade Commission (ITC) sided with Masimo in its dispute with Apple, prompting Apple to hurriedly implement a software fix. However, it was determined that the issue was rooted in hardware, specifically the sensor, necessitating a more substantial solution. Apple is expected to unveil a redesigned blood oxygen sensor by January 13, addressing the concerns raised by the ITC. It’s worth noting that the budget-friendly Apple Watch SE, lacking a blood oxygen sensor, was not implicated in this matter.

Apple has consistently argued that the ban would inflict “irreparable harm” to the company, given the significant financial impact of its Watch business, which generates around $17 billion annually, according to Bloomberg. The situation is evolving, and updates will be provided as the case progresses. In the meantime, those interested may consider acquiring the well-received Apple Watch Series 9 while it remains available.

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