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Temporary reprieve for Apple Watch in patent dispute

CHRIS DELMAS via Getty Images

In a recent development, a federal appeals court in Washington D.C. has granted Apple permission to resume importing the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 models. This decision comes just a day after Apple lodged an appeal against the International Trade Commission’s (ITC) ruling to ban the import of both smartwatch models due to an ongoing patent dispute.

It’s important to note that this court ruling is temporary. The appeals court has stipulated that the ITC must respond to Apple’s request for an extended pause on the ban by January 10, as reported by Reuters. As a result, Apple is expected to be able to recommence sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 on its official website and in Apple Stores in the United States. Notably, Apple had halted sales of these smartwatches last week in light of the ban.

Following the recent developments, Apple has confirmed its intention to resume the sale of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 in the United States. An Apple spokesperson informed Engadget that the full Apple Watch lineup, including the mentioned models with the blood oxygen feature, will be available for purchase again at Apple Stores starting immediately and on by 12 pm PT the following day.

The spokesperson emphasized the company’s commitment to providing users with cutting-edge health, wellness, and safety features through their technology. Apple expressed gratitude for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s decision to stay the exclusion order while considering Apple’s request for a longer-term pause during the appeal process.

The Apple Watch is a significant part of Apple’s business, generating around $17 billion annually, as reported by Bloomberg. The dispute originated from the International Trade Commission’s determination in October that Apple violated two patents owned by Masimo, a California-based company, relating to the blood-oxygen sensor integrated into most Watch models since 2020. Despite Apple’s appeal and efforts, including a Presidential Review, the ITC’s decision was not overturned, leading to the ban taking effect last week.

In its recent appeal, Apple underscored the potential “irreparable harm” it would face if the ban persisted and highlighted ongoing efforts to redesign the blood oxygen sensors in response to assertions by both the ITC and Masimo that a software fix would not be sufficient to resolve the patent dispute.

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