US lifts ban on imports of latest Apple watch

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  • By Monica Miller
  • BBC News, Singapore

Image source, Getty Images

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Apple won its appeal against a US import ban on its latest smart watch models.

Apple’s latest smart watches can resume being sold in the US after the tech company filed an emergency appeal with authorities.

Sales of the Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches had been halted in the US over a patent row.

The US’s trade body had barred imports and sales of Apple watches with technology for reading blood-oxygen levels.

Device maker Masimo had accused Apple of poaching its staff and technology.

It comes after the White House declined to overturn a ban on sales and imports of the Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches which came into effect this week. Apple had said it “strongly disagrees” with the ruling.

The iPhone maker made an emergency request to the US Court of Appeals, which proved successful in getting the ban lifted.

Earlier this month, Apple had “pre-emptively” removed the devices from its US site and from stores in the country. Sales elsewhere have not been affected.

The US International Trade Commission (USITC) order, issued in October, was subject to a 60-day review by the president, who has the power to veto the decision. That review period ended on Christmas Day, when the White House decided to keep the ban in place.

The office of the United States Trade Representative Ambassador, Katherine Tai, said on Tuesday that it had decided not to reverse the USITC’s decision after “careful consultations”.

Apple had asked for a stay on the ban until Customs and Border Protection (CBP) could consider whether the redesigned versions of its watches, which do not include the disputed technology, violated Masimo’s patents.

CBP was due to make its decision on 12 January, according to an Apple spokesperson.

The USITC found in October that Apple infringed two patents owned by medical device maker Masimo Corporation.

The California-based company had accused Apple of poaching key staff and taking other steps to steal technology it developed to measure oxygen levels in the blood.

Most versions of Apple’s smart watches have included the disputed blood oxygen feature since 2020. Its lower cost SE models do not. Previously sold watches will also not be affected by the ban.

In a statement given on Tuesday, Apple said: “We strongly disagree with the USITC decision and resulting exclusion order, and are taking all measures to return Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the US as soon as possible”.

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