Apple Watch Sales To Resume After Apple Wins Emergency Appeal To Block ITC Import Ban



Well, that was a scary few days—Apple has convinced an appeals court to let it sell the latest Apple Watch hardware, pausing an import ban imposed by the International Trade Commission (ITC). So, you can once again head to Apple’s website or your nearest brick-and-mortar Apple store to get the Apple Watch Series 9 or Ultra 2, though for how long is anyone’s guess.

The case was brought by Masimo, a medical technology firm you have probably never encountered. Masimo sells medical equipment to hospitals, and it claims that the blood oxygen sensor in Apple’s latest wearables infringes its intellectual property. The case is strong enough that the ITC issued an injunction that prevented Apple from importing or selling the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 (above) as of several days ago.

Apple went to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Tuesday, following an announcement from the Biden administration that it would not unilaterally pause the import ban. Wednesday’s filing is not the end of the dispute.

“Apple’s teams have worked tirelessly over many years to develop technology that empowers users with industry-leading health, wellness and safety features and we are pleased the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has stayed the exclusion order while it considers our request to stay the order pending our full appeal,” Apple said following the ruling.

Apple restarted in-store sales immediately, and online sales began again on Thursday. This is just a temporary stay—the ITC will need to reply to the court by January 10, 2024, but Apple will no doubt continue seeking a longer pause.

watch series 9
The Apple Watch Series 9.

It’s possible Apple will be able to drag things out until a redesign is complete. Apple said on Wednesday that it has already produced new versions of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 that it says do not run afoul of Masimo’s IP. However, these models are still going through regulatory and customs approval. This is one of Apple’s busiest times of year, and it very much wants to be able to sell wearables to all those people who got Apple gift cards under the tree.

Even if Apple can’t beat back the ITC in January, there may still be ways to get Apple’s smartwatches. The budget-friendly Apple Watch SE was not affected by the trade ban, and other retailers like Amazon and Best Buy can sell the devices without restriction, as long as they have stock. With the ban paused, Apple will probably take the opportunity to get every device it can into retail channels just in case.


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