No last-minute reprieve, US ban on some Apple Watch sales now in effect

No last-minute reprieve, US ban on some Apple Watch sales now in effect

technology By Dec 26, 2023 No Comments

No last-minute reprieve: US ban on some Apple Watch sales now in effect

The US ban on sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 is now in effect, following a decision by President Joe Biden’s administration to deny a reprieve. This decision was made in response to a trade tribunal’s ruling that both models had infringed on the blood oxygen sensor patents of another company.

Background of the Ban

In a patent dispute with health technology company Masimo, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) issued a ruling stating that Apple had infringed on Masimo’s patents related to blood oxygen sensors. President Biden’s administration had an opportunity to intervene within 60 days of the ITC decision. However, the US trade representative, Katherine Tai, decided not to reverse the ITC’s determination, leading to the ban becoming final on December 26, 2023.

Response from Apple

Apple has expressed strong disagreement with the ITC’s decision and exclusion order, pledging to take all measures to restore the availability of the affected models to customers in the US as swiftly as possible. The company had pre-emptively halted sales of the impacted models on its website from December 21, and in physical stores from December 24, ahead of the ban’s enforcement. Despite the ban, earlier models of the Apple Watch remain available in the US, with Apple assuring customers that the ban will not affect the service for those who have already purchased the new models.

Impact and Precedent

This ban represents a blow to Apple, which is already facing a slowdown in hardware sales. Notably, the White House’s intervention in such cases is exceptionally rare, with a previous instance being the Obama administration’s veto of a patent ban on iPhones and iPads during the legal dispute with Samsung in 2013. The current ban is a result of a legal battle between Apple and Masimo over the patents related to blood oxygen level measurement technology using pulse oximetry, a method that measures blood oxygen levels by shining light into the wrist. Apple introduced this technology in 2020 in an effort to enhance the appeal of its devices to consumers.

Legal Disputes and Patent Challenges

Apple is also engaged in legal disputes with medical wearables company AliveCor over the heart rate monitoring technology on its watches. In a separate case, the ITC upheld a judge’s ruling that Apple violated AliveCor’s patents in December 2022. However, the US Patent Trial and Appeal Board invalidated the patents at the center of the dispute the same month, which suspended any potential ban pending appeals. In the Masimo case, the ITC’s ruling is part of a broader legal conflict, as Masimo has sued Apple in federal court, alleging trade secret violations. A trial in this case ended with a hung jury in May.

Conclusion

The ban on the Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 in the US is a significant development stemming from a complex legal battle over patented technologies. The decision not to grant a reprieve and the subsequent ban underline the increasing importance of intellectual property rights in the tech industry. As Apple continues to navigate legal challenges surrounding its wearable devices, the impact of these rulings on the company’s product offerings and market position remains to be seen.

Source: arstechnica

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