Apple Faces US Sales Ban on Smartwatches Amid Ongoing Patent Battle
In the midst of an ongoing legal dispute, Apple finds itself barred once again from selling two of its smartwatch models in the United States, as a US appeals court reverses a prior decision. The ban extends to imports of the affected watches, marking the latest development in a patent clash with medical technology company Masimo.
Initially, Apple was permitted to continue selling its Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches while legal proceedings unfolded. However, the recent decision by the appeals court overturns that allowance. In response to the ban, Apple announced its intention to release watches without the contentious blood oxygen feature, ensuring the products remain available to consumers.
The patent dispute between Apple and Masimo, along with its spin-off Cercacor, revolves around allegations of staff poaching and the misappropriation of technology designed to measure blood oxygen levels. In October, the US International Trade Commission supported Masimo’s claims, asserting that Apple had violated certain patent rights and subsequently issued an order to restrict imports and sales. Although this order was scheduled to take effect in late December, it was temporarily halted during the ongoing appeal process.
The disputed feature, measuring blood oxygen levels, has been a standard inclusion in most versions of Apple’s watches, including the Series 9 and Ultra 2, since 2020. The SE model, however, does not feature this particular capability.
As of Thursday, the affected watches are prohibited from importation, effective from 17:00 ET (22:00 GMT). Apple, while expressing strong disagreement with the US International Trade Commission’s findings, emphasized its commitment to complying with the ruling during the appeal process to minimize disruption for customers.
This development unfolds against the backdrop of Apple recently surpassing Samsung to claim the majority share of the global smartphone market. According to data from the International Data Corporation, Apple accounted for over a fifth of phones shipped in the previous year, marking a significant milestone in the company’s market dominance.
Apple Watch sales ban can resume, US appeals court rules https://t.co/FELIiKjvGX
— Financial Times (@FT) January 17, 2024