In a latest update in an ongoing dispute between iPhone maker Apple and health tech company Masimo, Apple has successfully obtained a temporary reprieve in a patent infringement lawsuit, allowing the tech giant to resume sales of its latest smartwatch models in the United States. This development, as reported by Reuters, came after a U.S. Appeals Court on Wednesday decided to pause an import ban previously imposed by the U.S. International Trade Commission.
“We are thrilled to return the full Apple Watch lineup to customers in time for the new year,” Apple said in a statement. “Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, including the blood oxygen feature, will become available for purchase again in the United States at Apple Stores starting today and from apple.com tomorrow by 12 pm PT.”
Apple’s emergency request to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has, for now, halted the ITC’s decision. This pause is a significant relief for Apple, potentially averting millions of dollars in losses and avoiding the need for a rapid technological workaround or settlement. The appeals court’s brief ruling allows for a temporary halt of the import ban while it considers Apple’s request for a longer-term suspension during the appeals process. The court has given ITC has until January 10 to respond to Apple’s appeal.
The decision came after Apple initiated an appeal on Tuesday following the Biden administration’s decision not to veto the United States import ban on some models of its popular Apple Watch. Additionally, Apple is exploring various legal and technical avenues, including discussions with U.S. Customs and Border Protection regarding the importation of redesigned watch versions. It had submitted an emergency request to pause the ban until the U.S. Customs and Border Protection makes a final decision, due to be made on January 12, on the enforcement of the ban.
Meanwhile, the dispute centers around Apple’s medical monitoring technology in its smartwatches, particularly the blood oxygen reading feature. Irvine, California-based Masimo Corp, a medical technology firm, accused Apple of infringing its patents. The ITC had initially ruled in favor of Masimo, leading to the import ban. The legal battle has raised concerns over Apple’s practices, with accusations of technology theft and employee poaching from Masimo.
Ahead of the ban, Apple announced its plans to halt sale of its latest Watch 9 and Ultra 2 from its website on December 21 and from physical stores on December 25. However, Apple Watch SE models, which do not have the contested blood oxygen feature, remain available for sale. Furthermore, the iPhone maker was reported to no longer offer hardware repairs for out-of-warranty Apple Watch models, starting from Series 6. However, those with models still under warranty or covered by AppleCare Plus are not impacted by these restrictions. The ban on sales and repairs will last until Apple can reach a licensing agreement with Masimo, obtain a federal reprieve, or address the patent issue, possibly through a software update.