Last week, Apple confirmed it will suspend selling its recently launched Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 smartwatches. Today, the Biden administration decided not to veto an import ban on these Watch models.
Medical technology firm Masimo had accused Apple of patent infringement and stealing pulse oximetry technology incorporated into its watches. Pulse oximetry is a non-invasive method of monitoring a person’s oxygen saturation, and these patents are held by Masimo. The ITC previously ruled in October that Apple infringed Masimo’s patents.
As is customary, the ITC ruling went to the Office of the US Trade Representative for a potential veto. However, the Trade Representative Katherine Tai has now declined to reverse the import prohibition. In a statement (via Reuters), the USTR said they carefully reviewed the ITC’s decision following consultation and determined not to use their veto authority in this case.
On October 26, 2023, the U.S. International Trade Commission found that Apple, Inc. infringed two patents owned by Masimo Corporation and Cercacor Laboratories, Inc, both based in the United States… After careful consultations, Ambassador Tai decided not to reverse the ITC’s determination and the ITC’s decision became final on December 26, 2023.
Last week, the ITC also denied Apple’s request for a stay of the US sales ban. “For the reasons discussed in the Commission Opinion issued concurrently herewith, the Commission has determined to deny Apple’s motion to stay the remedial orders pending appeal and/or in light of a potential government shutdown,” the ITC said in its statement.
The ban will prevent Apple from importing and selling Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models with blood oxygen monitoring in the United States. Watches already in the country before the December 26 deadline can still be sold.
Apple’s budget Watch SE is not affected. The decision will also not affect third-party retailers like Amazon from selling the smartwatches. However, once their inventory is sold out, they won’t be able to get any more units until the patent dispute is resolved.