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Court temporarily blocks Apple Watch sales ban

Officials say features in several Apple Watch models violate U.S. patent law intended to protect smaller companies.
Apple Watch Series 8 are on display at an Apple Store at The Grove
Posted at 12:51 PM, Dec 27, 2023

Certain models of Apple Watch will be temporarily allowed to be imported after a court said it will consider an appeal by Apple. 

Apple had stopped watch sales to comply with orders issued by the U.S. International Trade Commission. Two of Apple Watch's latest versions allegedly violated a patent over its blood oxygen feature. The Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 were pulled from Apple's website and retail stores. The company also stopped importing the watches into the U.S.

The case was under a 60-day review period by the Biden administration, which ended on Dec. 25. 

The ITC said Apple violated medical technology company Masimo’s pulse oximeter patent, which uses light-based technology to read blood-oxygen levels. 

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The International Trade Commission alleged that Apple violated section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930. The act is intended to prevent companies from importing items that violate U.S. patents that could harm smaller companies. The companies allegedly being harmed by sales of Apple Watches include Masimo Corporation and Cercacor Laboratories, Inc.

The International Trade Commission's action "sends a powerful message that even the world’s largest company is not above the law,” said Joe Kiani, CEO of Masimo. “This important determination is a strong validation of our efforts to hold Apple accountable for unlawfully misappropriating our patented technology."

Apple has said it strongly disagrees with the International Trade Commission's ruling.

The court will give the ITC until Jan. 10 to respond to the appeal.