The US has officially banned the import and sale of Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 models after US President Biden’s administration declined to veto an agency’s decision to restrict the wearables. The move follows an October ruling by the International Trade Commission (ITC) that certain Apple Watch models infringed the blood oxygen saturation technology patented by a medical tech company called Masimo. The affected Apple watches feature a blood oxygen (SpO2) monitoring feature. The Cupertino giant is appealing the federal government ban. An Apple spokesperson said that the company strongly disagrees with the ITC’s order.
Apple on Tuesday (December 26) appealed (via Reuters) a decision to ban sales and imports of its latest wearables based on a complaint from Masimo after President Joe Biden’s administration declined to veto USITC earlier today. In a statement, an Apple spokesperson said that it strongly disagrees with the USITC decision and resulting exclusion order, and will be “taking all measures to return the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the US as soon as possible.” The California-based Masimo earlier claimed that Apple’s pulse reader feature infringes on its pulse-oximeter technology.
The iPhone maker has filed an emergency request for the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to halt the ban. It requested the Federal Circuit for a temporary stay on the ban at least until US Customs and Border Protection considers redesigned versions of its watches infringe Masimo’s patents by January 12.
A statement from the Office of US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the agency “decided not to reverse the ITC’s determination” after “careful consideration.” The government tribunal’s order will go into effect on December 26, barring imports and sales of Apple Watches that use patent-infringing technology for monitoring blood-oxygen levels. Apple had already paused the sale of Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 in the US on its website on December 21 and from its store shelves after December 24.
The ITC issued the ban in October this year after finding that Apple infringed on blood oxygen saturation technology patented by Masimo. The tribunal ordered Apple to pause selling any previously imported devices with the blood oxygen pulse oximeter sensor. The order was followed by the 60-day Presidential Review Period that expired on December 25.
The Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 are still available for purchase outside the US. Also, the latest move does not affect the Apple Watch SE as the budget-friendly wearable does not feature a SpO2 sensor. Apple has included a SpO2 tracker in every wearable since its Series 6 model in 2020.