Apple has announced its intention to appeal the recent decision by the Biden Administration not to lift the ban on the import and sale of its Series 9 and Ultra 2 smart watches in the United States.

The ban, imposed by the US International Trade Commission (USITC) in response to a patent dispute initiated by medical device maker Masimo, stems from allegations of employee poaching and technology theft by Apple.

Masimo, a prominent player in the medical device industry, accused Apple of illicitly acquiring both its personnel and technology.

As a consequence, the USITC issued a prohibition on the sale and import of Apple’s watches.

The dispute revolves around two patents owned by Masimo Corporation and Cercacor Laboratories, Inc., both based in the United States.

The specific technology in question pertains to the measurement of oxygen levels in the blood, a feature incorporated into most versions of Apple’s smart watches since 2020, excluding the lower-cost SE model.

In response to the ban, Apple proactively removed the affected Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches from its US website and retail stores earlier this month.

However, sales in other regions remain unaffected by the import restrictions. The USITC order, issued in October, underwent a 60-day review period by the president, concluding on Christmas Day.

The Biden Administration, after careful consideration, decided not to overturn the USITC’s decision, allowing the ban to stand.

Despite the setback, Apple is pursuing multiple avenues to overturn the ban. The company has requested a stay on the ban until the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) evaluates whether the redesigned versions of its watches, excluding thedisputed technology, still violate Masimo’s patents.

The CBP is expected to make its determination on January 12, as communicated by an Apple spokesperson.

Additionally, Apple has filed an emergency request with the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to lift the ban.

The tech giant vehemently disagrees with the USITC’s decision and the resulting exclusion order, emphasizing its commitment to resolving the matter and returning the affected smartwatches to US customers promptly.

Masimo, on the other hand, views the White House’s decision as a significant victory for the integrity of the US patent system.

A company spokesperson expressed that the outcome benefits American consumers by fostering an ecosystem that rewards genuine innovation.

The dispute highlights the complex intersection of technology, intellectual property, and competition in the rapidly evolving smartwatch market, with legal battles becoming a common occurrence among industry leaders.

As the case progresses, the tech community and consumers alike will be closely watching the developments and implications for the broader landscape of innovation and competition.



Last Updated: 27 December 2023