Apple wins bid to pause Apple Watch ban at US appeals court

December 28, 2023 - 1:53 PM
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An Apple smartwatch is displayed as customers visit the Apple store in New York, U.S., December 26, 2023. (Reuters/Eduardo Munoz)

Apple AAPL.O scored a victory on Wednesday as a U.S. appeals court paused a government commission’s import ban on some of its popular Apple smartwatches following a patent dispute with medical-technology firm Masimo MASI.O.

The tech giant had filed an emergency request for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to halt the order after appealing the U.S. International Trade Commission’s (ITC) decision that it had infringed Masimo’s patents.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration declined to veto the ban on Dec. 26, allowing it to take effect. Apple asked for a pause of the ban later that day.

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

The ITC barred imports and sales of Apple Watches with technology for reading blood-oxygen levels. Apple has included a pulse oximeter feature in its smartwatches starting with its Series 6 model in 2020.

Apple has paused sales of its Series 9 and Ultra 2 smartwatches in the U.S., though the watches have remained available at other retailers including Amazon AMZN.O, Best Buy BBY.N, Costco COST.O and Walmart WMT.N.

The ban does not affect the Apple Watch SE, a less-expensive model without a pulse oximeter. Previously sold watches also will not be affected by the ban.

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

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.

— Reporting by Blake Brittain in Washington;Editing by Chris Reese